Because the water at the Camp LeJeune military training center in Jacksonville, North Carolina, was contaminated from 1953-1987, around one million veterans their family members have subsequently suffered from cancer, Leukemia and Parkinson’s disease related to the poisoned water. Some of the men and women affected by the contamination have received VA healthcare, but recently two U.S. senators have lit a fire under the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to finally make certain that VA grants disability benefits to veterans who were stationed at Camp LeJeune.
In their recent letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis stated the importance of VA finally granting presumptive disability status to Camp Lejeune veterans in order to provide financial support for the veterans and their families.
“The research that has been conducted on the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is exhaustive,” the senators wrote. “The recent public health assessment conducted by ATSDR shows clear causal connection between the contaminated water and the nine conditions that are under consideration in this rule for presumption of service connection.”
“While affected veterans are receiving health care,” the senators continued, “many have lost their homes and their ability to work and financially support themselves because of the disabilities caused by the illnesses they developed from toxic exposure. Many more are teetering on the brink of losing their homes and bankruptcy. This is a national problem. We urge OMB to immediately approve this proposed rule and allow it to proceed to the public comment period.”
As the senators also mentioned in their letter, congress passed a law in 2012 called the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act. The law afforded healthcare benefits to affected Camp LeJeune veterans and their families but did not address disability compensation or service-connection presumption for those affected by the poison water at Camp LeJeune. As their letter states, Senators Burr and Tillis rightly want VA to “finally provide financial relief to these veterans” and their families.
There should be no red tape, indeed no wait or backlog, related to Camp LeJeune veterans who have medical conditions associated with the contaminated water there. Our office, which has represented Camp LeJeune veterans and will continue to do so, hopes that the Office of Management and Budget approves the rules championed by Senators Burr and Tillis so that it can become law right away. If you need help with a Camp LeJeune case or any other VA disability claim, please call the office of Attorney Sean Kendall today at 877-629-1712.