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Veterans affected by tainted water at Camp Lejeune can now get benefits

Rule change takes effect to cover 8 diseases associated with exposure

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Department of Veterans Affairs' new regulations to help treat military veterans who were exposed to tainted water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, are now in effect. This after the VA announced in January the government has scientific and medical evidence proving a link between the exposure and eight diseases.

“Establishing these presumptions is a demonstration of our commitment to care for those who have served our nation and have been exposed to harm as a result of that service,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David J. Shulkin. “The Camp Lejeune presumptions will make it easier for those Veterans to receive the care and benefits they earned.”

In the early 1980s, trichloroethylene, a metal degreaser, and perchloroethylene, a dry cleaning agent, as well as benzene and vinyl chloride, were discovered in two on-base water supply systems at Camp Lejeune.

VA says it is providing disability benefits -- totaling more than $2 billion -- to active duty, reserve and National Guard members who served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 cumulative days between Aug. 1, 1953 and Dec. 31, 1987 -- who have been diagnosed with any of the following eight conditions:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • According to VA, the area included is all of Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River, as well as satellite camps and housing areas. As many as 900,000 service members may have been exposed to the tainted water and those affected can now submit applications for benefits.

    “We have a responsibility to take care of those who have served our Nation and have been exposed to harm as a result of that service,” former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald said in January before leaving his post. “Establishing a presumption for service at Camp Lejeune will make it easier for those veterans to receive the care and benefits they earned.”

    VA says the contaminated wells supplying the water systems were shut down in February 1985.

    The new rule took effect yesterday. For more information on the new benefit ruling, including contact information if you have questions, go here

    This presumption complements the health care already provided for 15 illnesses or conditions as part of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012. The Camp Lejeune Act requires VA to provide health care to Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune, and to reimburse family members or pay providers for medical expenses for those who resided there for not fewer than 30 days between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987.

    Marine Corps statement

    The following statement was released by the U.S. Marine Corps in January, when VA first announced the new rule:

    "We are pleased that the Department of Veterans Affairs has announced a new rule to consider certain diseases presumptively connected to service for our Marines, Sailors and families who have lived or worked at Camp Lejeune. The authority to prescribe all rules and regulations for presumptive disability is given to the VA by Congress.  We support the Camp Lejeune health care law and any related policy decisions made by the VA and/or Congress that provides health care and benefits to our service members and their families."

    "The health and welfare of our Marines, Sailors, their families and our civilian workers are top priorities for the Marine Corps. We continue our commitment to find and notify those who used the water during the time period in question, and keep them informed regarding the latest scientific and medical information."

    All updates can be viewed on the USMC website. To be added to our registry or learn more about ATSDR studies visit the below websites:

    Author's note: Anyone willing to share their experience regarding Camp Lejeune or any other story, you can email me at jmohrmann@wjxt.com or contact me on Twitter: @jodi_mohrmann.