Two water systems out of the eight at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune became contaminated as early as 1953. The exact date is not known, as the problem was not discovered for quite some time, and the contaminated systems were not completely shut down until 1987.
Before the flow of the contaminants was halted however, extremely harmful chemicals were seeping into the water supply. Referred to as volatile organic compounds, benzene, degreasers, dry-cleaning fluids and many other chemicals were in the water that service members and their families were drinking daily, using to cook their meals, and using to shower and bathe. While certainly many ill effects were felt, most veterans did not realize the cause for decades.
Even today, some veterans may not be aware that a serious health condition from which they are suffering is due to their exposure to contaminated water they ingested while living at Camp Lejeune.
How to File for Disability Compensation
The time it will take to receive disability compensation will vary, but the process should go faster if you are filing a claim for one of the presumptive diseases for veterans who served at Camp Lejeune. The eight diseases that now have a presumptive connection to service are:
- Adult Leukemia
- Aplastic Anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Liver cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Parkinson’s Disease
You will need to provide medical evidence showing that you have one of these diseases, as well as documentation that you served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953 through December 31, 1987. You will not need to prove that your illness is connected to your military service.
If you are experiencing another type of disability, you can still apply for disability benefits. However, you will need to provide evidence to show that your disability is connected to your military service.
Appealing Your Veterans Disability Claim
If you are denied and decide to appeal, you will have to file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). You have one year to file your NOD. You can file an NOD if your claim has been denied, but you can also file if you believe your disability deserves a higher rating, or if you think that you are entitled to an earlier effective date.
Your local VA office will review your case again and provide you with a Statement of the Case, which provides a written explanation of why your claim was denied. At this point, you can choose to file an appeal with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA). You also have the option of requesting a hearing. Even if the BVA denies your claim, you can still file a Notice of Appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
Considering all of the steps involved, the length of the appeals process can vary considerably, sometimes taking months or years. To go through the appeal as painlessly as possible, contact an experienced veterans disability attorney.
At Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick, we can handle the legal issues while you focus on your health. We work with hundreds of veterans around the country by helping them get the disability benefits they deserve. Contact us online for a free consultation about your veterans disability claim appeal.