WASHINGTON (WAVY) – Wednesday is the deadline for eligible veterans to claim backdated medical benefits under the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins Act (PACT Act).

The retroactive benefits would date back to the day that the law took effect last August. Veterans can file a claim on the Department of Veterans Affairs website.

The PACT Act was a breakthrough because it lifted the burden for veterans to prove their sickness was connected to their service. President Biden signed it into law one year ago this week.

“We have many obligations, but only one truly sacred obligation,” Biden said, “to equip those we send into harm’s way, and to care for them and their families when they come home.”

The law honors the memory of Army Sgt. Heath Robinson, who died from lung cancer after exposure to toxic burn pits in the Middle East. His widow had fought for the law.

“So many veterans are still battling burn pit illnesses today,” said Danielle Robinson. “Too many have succumbed to those illnesses as well.”

The PACT Act covers veterans from two eras. For those who served in Vietnam, it expanded coverage for illnesses related to the jungle defoliant Agent Orange.

For veterans of the more recent wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the benefits cover 23 different illnesses including a dozen types of cancer.

The coverage is presumptive, meaning if you have one of the disorders and served in designated areas during specific time frames, you automatically qualify.

“We’ll stop at nothing to make sure every veteran, every family member and every survivor gets everything they’ve earned, and they deserve,” said Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough at last year’s signing ceremony.

A DVA spokesman told Nexstar this week that the department has received 800,000 claims so far, but that represents only one out of every five of the more than four million veterans who are eligible.