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Toxic exposure during your deployment? New law expands benefits for post-9/11 veterans

Toxic exposure during your deployment? New law expands benefits for post-9/11 veterans

(BPT) - Are you or a loved one a post-9/11 combat veteran? Were you exposed to burn pits or other toxins while in service? If so, there’s important information you should know regarding your veterans’ health care and disability benefits, including two fast-approaching deadlines.

Veterans who were exposed to burn pits or other toxic substances may experience various health issues. Veterans who think their diagnosed medical conditions are connected to toxic exposure during service should file a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Veterans not currently experiencing any health problems may have some in the future. Even if they feel fine, eligible veterans should get a toxic exposure screening. Toxic exposure screenings are available at VA health facilities across the country.

Thankfully, new legislation called the PACT Act will help veterans get the treatment and benefits they deserve.

Army veteran Andrew Myatt, who deployed to Iraq in 2004-05, said, “On paper, I did everything I was supposed to. I don't drink soda or eat fast food. I have a very healthy lifestyle and diet. And yet, I've come down with two cancers in the last three years.”

What is the PACT Act?

The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act became law on Aug. 10, 2022. This bill addresses one of the most urgent issues for post-9/11 veterans — health problems related to exposure to burn pits and other toxic substances.

The PACT Act grants permanent VA health care eligibility to 3.5 million post-9/11 veterans who may have been exposed to toxic substances during service. The Act adds more than 20 new presumptive service-connected illnesses related to exposure to burn pits and other toxic substances for veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and surrounding areas.

Veterans nonprofit Wounded Warrior Project strongly advocated for this bill and is working hard to spread the word about expanded access to health care and disability benefits for impacted veterans.

Act now to maximize benefits

Time is running out for exposed veterans to maximize these benefits. Veterans must file a claim with the VA by Aug. 9, 2023, to be eligible for retroactive disability compensation dated back to Aug. 10, 2022 (when the bill was signed into law), if they were diagnosed with a qualifying condition at that time.

Post-9/11 combat veterans discharged over 10 years ago and not enrolled in VA health care have a deadline of Oct. 1, 2023, to take advantage of the open enrollment period. If they miss it, they could be subject to a phased-in enrollment period, based on their discharge from service.

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“Even if they aren't sick now, I would urge all post-9/11 veterans to register for VA health care,” said WWP CEO Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mike Linnington. “For combat veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances while serving our nation, the PACT Act helps alleviate the burden of proof needed to make a service connection for VA benefits. Veterans who qualify under the PACT Act and are diagnosed with cancer have priority when it comes to VA health care and other benefits.”

Veterans are strongly advised to work with an accredited VA representative to advocate for their needs. One option is Wounded Warrior Project, which has accredited representatives that work with the VA to advocate for veterans.


Are your business finances in shape? A checklist to get you organized

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Are your business finances in shape? A checklist to get you organized

(BPT) - By Irana Wasti, Chief Product Officer of BILL

As a business owner, keeping your finances thriving is critical, especially if you’re looking to do more with less as many small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are. Having your finances in shape can open the door to new markets, products and services, customers, and expanded advertising and hiring.

Staying organized — especially with cashflow records — is one of the best ways to ensure your business continues to succeed. If you want to manage and optimize your finances and ensure your business finances are in good shape, follow these five simple, effective steps.

1. Go paperless

Drowning in paper? Opting out of reconciling credit cards and bank statements on paper and transitioning your accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) to a digital system can easily declutter your finances. By switching your payables and receivables over to a digital system, you'll virtually eliminate the need for managing everything on paper.

You can save money and time by sending payments with just a few clicks and automating recurring payments. Also, automation can optimize approval and review workflows, and reduce human error and time spent on routine tasks. With smart, AI driven software, getting started can be as easy as taking a picture of your next bill. And it continues to pay off with peace of mind and improved efficiency in the future.

2. Secure and organize financial documents

Without so much paper, you may find it easier to keep all your financial records organized, secure and easily accessible. For example, when customer Mount Tamalpais College adopted BILL, they were able to more easily adapt to hybrid work (physically working on site and virtually), streamline AP and spend far less time shepherding documents for signatures and approvals. If they go through an audit, they'll have all their important documents stored in one convenient, accessible place.

3. Take a financial inventory

Another helpful step is to take a financial inventory and review your business spending habits. The goal is to gain more comfort and clarity over your finances and to use this information to make more informed financial decisions. This can be even easier if you’re using financial automation software that provides visibility into your cash flow and lets you generate reports. You should review to see if:

  • You can cut back or reallocate funds to better align with your goals.
  • Your cash flow is consistently challenged, and if you can implement strategies to improve it.
  • Your business has any outstanding debt and if you can pay off or consolidate debt.
  • You can negotiate vendor contracts for better terms or switch to more cost-effective vendors.

4. Make it easier to pay and get paid

According to a study by PYMNTS, 49% of invoices become overdue. Since getting paid on time is essential to your company's financial health, it's time to roll up your sleeves and do a deep clean of your AR.

Use your reporting system to pull up all your unpaid invoices. This will quickly give insights into which clients owe you money and if some regularly take too long to pay. If you use BILL, you can set up auto reminders to let clients know when payments are due or if anything is overdue.

Take control of your cash flow and avoid late payments by making your payment process easier. You can do so by expanding payment options, such as accepting credit cards, ACH bank transfers, PayPal and more, so your clients can have more options to pay you. You can also consider using an online portal to enable customers to pay invoices online and set up autopay and flexible payment plans to improve your cash flow.

5. Set new goals and plan

If you've reached your initial business goals, it doesn't mean you should sit on your laurels. It's essential to spend a little time planning the future of your business. This could include setting aside funds for future investments, building an emergency fund, preparing for potential market changes, or even succession planning and contributing more to your personal retirement accounts.

By going paperless, organizing your financial documents, doing a thorough financial inventory, reviewing unpaid invoices and planning for the future, you can ensure that your business is on the right path to meet its financial goals and thrive this year and beyond.

Financial automation does not have to be hard, complicated, or reactive. At BILL, we can help take proactive action to you get your business finances in shape by streamlining your AP and AR workflows for better visibility and control of your cash flows. To see how it works, visit to start your risk-free trial.


Ready to get back to barbecue? Tips for choosing your next favorite grill

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Ready to get back to barbecue? Tips for choosing your next favorite grill

(BPT) - There's nothing like sunshine, a warm breeze and the smell of delicious food on the grill. If you've been anticipating getting back to grilling, wait no longer! According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, now that temperatures are warmer, it's the perfect opportunity to celebrate everything you love about outdoor cooking. If you already have a grill, this is a great time to upgrade, so you can cook more dishes for bigger get-togethers, or to try a different kind of grill, letting you experiment with new techniques like using a smoker.

What kind of grill is best for you? It depends on your space, what you like to cook and how you like to prepare it. First, ask yourself the following questions:

How much time do you want to spend cooking? If you've got a busy schedule, you may prefer the convenience of gas or electric grills. However, if you love spending time perfecting the perfect outdoor meal, you may enjoy a charcoal grill, smoker or kamado grill.

How much space do you have? Do you host frequent large gatherings? Go big on your barbecue size to optimize these special occasions. For a big backyard, a larger grill with a kitchen island can create a focal point for entertaining. But a premium portable or compact grill is your best option if you live in a condo or apartment, or for a cabin or other vacation destination with limited space.

What do you love to cook? Many grills offer extra features for particular foods. Think rotisseries if you love roasted chicken, or side burners for soups and stews. Crave the 'za? Consider a grill with ample space for pizza stones.

To help you discover your next favorite grill, here are the features of five major grill types to consider when making your choice.

Gas: If you want convenience and faster meal prep, a gas grill may be right for you. As with your kitchen stove, your food can be ready to cook in 10 minutes — and it's easy to regulate cooking temperatures.

Charcoal: If you love being hands-on with the nuances of outdoor grilling, a charcoal grill may be the choice for you. Some say charcoal provides the best flavor experience. You can use your charcoal grill for classic low and slow cooking — and high heat searing.

Pellet: This a great option for people seeking optimal flavor. With available pellets in hickory, mesquite and oak, you can enjoy a truly flavorful cooking experience.

Electric: If simplicity appeals to you most, an electric grill may be your best bet. Designed to produce constant heat and operate without an open flame — without charcoal or propane — they’re especially suited for apartment or condo dwellers.

Kamado: For people who love cooking all styles and who keep grilling year-round, Kamado Grills’ excellent insulation works perfectly for both grilling and smoking. They're very versatile, use wood and charcoal, and can also roast or bake.

Few products come in as wide an array of price ranges as grills, so almost anyone who wants a grill can find one that's within their budget. But remember — a more premium grill offers many more features to enjoy and tends to last longer, providing a stronger return on your investment.

Ready to get out there and cook? Get back to barbecue with this delicious recipe for Grilled Chicken Fajitas from food writer Brad Prose, founder of Chiles and Smoke. All you need is two pounds of chicken wings, Mexican seasonings like chili powder, chipotle powder, ginger and limes for a tasty marinade (4-12 hours), then you can wow your friends and family by grilling or smoking these flavorful wings.

Explore recipes and plenty of grilling inspiration at — or find your new grill by locating a retailer near you at