If you are a veteran who was stationed at Camp Lejeune, you may have already heard the news that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has expanded its review of chemical exposure due to drinking the contaminated water while stationed there. If you have not, the VA press release is available here.
VA Reviewing Three Diseases for Presumptive Service Connection
The VA is currently considering presumptive service connection for veterans who served at Camp Lejeune and are diagnosed with: 1) kidney cancer, 2) angiosarcoma of the liver, and 3) acute myelogenous leukemia. So, veterans who were stationed at Camp LeJeune and are suffering from at least one of those diseases will receive the presumption of service connection and not have to prove causation or provide a nexus opinion. There is no current timeline of when or if the presumptions will take effect. My collegue Adam Perry wrote a blog that explains it in more detail, available here.
Don’t Wait For the VA to Presume That Camp Lejeune Caused Your Disease – Prove It!
Once again, the VA is saying “wait” to veterans dying of a disease that is directly related to their military service. If you served at Camp Lejeune and the VA denied your claim for service connection, there is no need to wait for the presumptions to take effect. You can appeal the VA’s denial and then submit evidence that your condition was more likely than not related to your exposure to toxins at Camp Lejeune. How? Well, I’m biased, but I would recommend you hire Attorney Sean Kendall. Sean has been successfully working Camp Lejeune for years. I have also represented Camp Lejeune veterans; in fact, I was arguing service connection for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, on behalf of an Alabama veteran, the day the VA announced its plans for review.
What About Veterans Suffering From Disease Not Included In the Proposed Presumptions?
Easy answer - the VA will continue to deny your claim unless you prove that your disease is related to your service. My Alabama client suffers from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (a type of cancer), which is not included on the VA’s proposed presumptions. There is strong medical research showing that the toxins in the water at Camp Lejeune can lead to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Additionally, female breast cancer, lung, oral cavity, prostate and rectum cancers, and Parkinson’s disease, are associated with Camp Lejeune contamination (review report here). For veterans suffering from diseases not entitled to the proposed presumptions, clear argument and evidence will be required to win service-connection claims.
Presumptions Are Great, But Don’t Wait For the VA to Prove Your Claim For You
I am all for the VA amending its regulations to provide an easier path for veterans to win their claims, and I hope the regulations go through and it happens fast. But, for veterans who were denied and are working on an appeal to the BVA or at the DRO stage, there is no time to wait on the VA to change. If you served at Camp Lejeune and suffer from a disease, you are likely entitled to benefits from the VA. I encourage you to get help and start proving your claim today.