It’s a terrible feeling to wonder if the water you are drinking is safe. We normally put our blind trust in those who provide us with water services and supplies. We can’t survive without water, so it’s terrible to think that drinking it could cause serious or even terminal illness.
We now know that at the North Carolina Marine Corps base of Camp Lejeune, the drinking water was laced with toxins from the 1950’s through the 1980’s. At the time, no one was aware of the situation, and even after the toxic exposure came to light, it took years for the proper investigations to ensue, and even longer to offer compensation to the exposed veterans. For many veterans who served at Camp Lejeune, this information is still breaking news, and both the VA and the veteran community are working to get the word out to those who may have been exposed. Some veterans may already be ill and unaware that their cancer or other medical condition could be due to the time they spent at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987.
Although many details are left unreleased to the public, recent investigations show definitive evidence that for those three decades the water contained toxic chemicals and volatile organic compounds. Not only were people drinking water laced with dry-cleaning solvents, degreasers, and chemicals such as benzene, but they were also bathing in it and cooking with it for years.
Service members and their families living at Camp Lejeune may have experienced one of the worst water contamination issues our country has ever known and were not alerted about it until decades later. Many veterans suffer from multiple conditions that we now know are most likely caused by their exposure. Many of these diseases are insidious too, meaning they don’t manifest until years or even decades later.
At first, 15 different health conditions were brought to light as being linked to the contamination, with the US Department of Veterans Affairs offering free healthcare to those at the base from January 1, 1957 to December 31, 1987. These 15 conditions were: esophageal cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, leukemia, multiple myeloma, renal toxicity, female infertility, scleroderma, Hodgkin's lymphoma, myelodysplastic syndromes, hepatic steatosis, miscarriage, and neurobehavioral effects.
Due to further research, the list of eligible conditions for VA healthcare benefits has lengthened and the timeframe of exposure has widened from August 1, 1953 through December 31, 1987. The list now also includes adult leukemia, aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes, liver cancer, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and Parkinson's disease. Keep in mind, however, that the list of exposure-related conditions for healthcare purposes and the list of exposure-related conditions for disability compensation purposes are different. VA does not offer disability compensation for every condition for which they offer healthcare. If you served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 and have been diagnosed with: adult leukemia; aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes; bladder cancer; kidney cancer; liver cancer; multiple myeloma; non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; and Parkinson’s disease, you are eligible for disability compensation benefits.
If you have been diagnosed with one of these conditions, you should file a claim for VA disability benefits. Did you file a claim, but get denied? If you would like a free evaluation of your case, Contact us at Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick for a free evaluation of your case. We have decades of experience in veterans legal issues, including exposure-related disability claims.
For immediate help, call us at 401-331-6300 or contact us online.