JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On Wednesday, President Joe Biden signed legislation to expand federal health care services for millions of veterans who served at military bases where toxic smoke billowed from huge “burn pits.”

Doctors said the toxic smoke from the “burn pits” has been linked to cancer and other chronic illnesses, even death.

Ray Coleman, director of communications at Mississippi Veterans Affairs, said the legislation adds 23 illnesses linked to exposure, which makes it easier for veterans to qualify for benefits.

He said most claims had previously been turned down.

“I’m willing to say maybe eight to nine times out of 10, they have already filed a claim but may have been denied in the past because those presumptive conditions, those conditions and illnesses that they have were not on this list,” Coleman explained.

The bill would also provide family members of veterans, who have died from complications due to exposure, a monthly compensation of $2,000.

To file a claim, go to www.MSVA.ms.gov.