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After Years of Denials, VA to Give Disability Status to Marines Poisoned by Camp Lejeune Water


WASHINGTON – August 4th, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that the VA would begin the process to grant presumptive disability status to veterans of service at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina who have certain cancers and conditions known to be associated with long term exposure to the chemicals that contaminated the base water system from 1953-1987. VA is conceding that it will no longer deny benefits to eligible veterans based on VA’s faulty and selective interpretations of science.  The VA’s use of “presumptive status” means the benefit of the doubt goes to the veteran as long as VA determines they meet eligibility requirements.

Under pressure from Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), the VA now acknowledges the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other respected scientific bodies’ determination that the chemicals in the contaminated water are known to cause several illnesses Camp Lejeune veterans are experiencing.  In short, veterans will now be able to get VA benefits as a result of their exposure.

“I’m disappointed that we had to pressure the VA to do the right thing for our veterans in the first place,” said Burr. “The scientific research is strong and the widespread denials of benefits will soon end. Now, these veterans and their families members will not have to fight for benefits they are due. I look forward to seeing the commitment Secretary McDonald gave me realized without unnecessary delay and I credit him and Dr. Breysse of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry for their commitment to righting this wrong.”

“The evidence has been accumulating for years now – many of those who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune in years past developed certain diseases after exposure to contaminated drinking water. Compensating these victims, our Nation’s heroes and their families, is simply the right thing to do and I commend Secretary McDonald for taking this bold step for responsible government,” said Tillis. “I am proud to join Senator Burr and support his deep commitment to advocating on behalf of the victims, and we will continue to monitor the Veterans Affairs Administration closely to ensure that the process for establishing the presumptive program occurs in a timely and meaningful way.”

Sens Burr and Tillis met with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald in July and the Director of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to discuss ways the VA could begin admitting benefits to veterans afflicted with these diseases caused by poisoned water at Camp Lejeune.

(click to expand infographic)


CREDIT: Camp Lejeune Toxic Water by VetsHQ Infographics & Research

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  1. As a Navy Corpman’s wife, not just my husband was affected, but my son who was conceived and born there, and my mother and sister who had several visits over four years for more than 30 days. The military will not have record of these other exposed people. Both my mother and sister developed cancer related to exposure. We do have witnesses of their stays. Will the VA compensate their unpaid medical bills still unpaid at this time from their treatment? Primarily it is my sister’s bills as our mother passed away in 2011. My sister survived but is still under care and owes much money!
    Thank you for any assistance!
    Cheryl Ward

  2. What about my sons, One son died of colon cancer and was my with was born there. I was station there 1969-1972. Other was conseave there in 1971, and we left there in 1972. He has lot of issue, and not a normal 40 year old man. What can be done for him

  3. My husband was there in 95. He was diagnosed with Raynaud’s disease while in the military. Now that he is out and having problems the VA or DAV keeps denying his claim. We are at a loss since we have all documents stating he was at Legune and Anniston the 2 bases that were deemed toxic. He is having more problems as he gets older. We are in the process of trying to find a Dr. To get an outside opinion and get him medical for his hands. Anyone have any ideas to help. He was denied when he got out of the service and denied again just recently.

  4. My husband was station there from 71 to 73, we were married and our fist son was born there in December 1971. On August 3rd, my husband was diagnosed with stage four cancer, lung, bone, liver……………………….and we were told he now has less than a year to live. The cancer is so wide spread they recommend no treatment just management. Where do I go for HELP

  5. Marines and their families who were exposed to this toxic water will be treated like criminals by the VA.
    This is no different than the backlog of over 800,000 injured, sick and wounded veterans being denied medical care and compensation.
    The VA’s National Anthem is not The Star-Spangled Banner. Their anthem is DENY, DENY, UNTIL YOU DIE!

  6. I was stationed at Camp Lejeune. For over five (5) years I drank, bathed in, and used the base water. My mess hall food was cooked in it. Since 1973 I have had numerous major surgeries and three near death experiences. The doctors could not explain what had damaged my intestines so badly. They had never seen so much scar tissue that covered my entire intestines. They were encased in a thick layer of scar tissue. I have had over six (6) feet of intestines removed. had my secum surgically removed. Had my appendix removed. Have a colostomy surgery and worn a bag for six months. The diagnosis was always the same, “idiopathic, no known cause, treatment or cure. Now I know. I was forced to retire early due to the disabilities it has caused me. I lost a lot of work due to hospitalizations and recovery periods. I have been diagnosed also with multiple myeloma and had one surgery to remove tumors. More tumors have emerged next to the surgical site. Those that placed the toxins in the Camp Lejeune water supply poisoned me and ruined my health and my life. The VA has refused my claims twice stating that they could not find any service records for me. Funny thing, the VA had mailed me a form telling me I was eligible for VA healthcare due to Camp Lejeune but when I sent the form back twice they could not find any record of me. How the hell did they find me and my current address in the first place!!!!! Fools.

  7. It’s great that the VA granted presumptive disability status to the marine veterans. It was years of denial on the part of the government and I pity those families that were left behind by deceased veterans because of the poisoning. I think the families of the veterans who have already passed away because of the poisoning should receive compensation. If proven that the cause of death was because of poisoning the VA should also process grant for those left behind by the marine veterans.


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