Over the years, history has shown that there have been injustices done to our military veterans. Whether accidental or not, unforeseen circumstances and deplorable conditions have led to military vets developing health issues or even terminal illnesses. Such situations may also create disabilities among veterans, with the government compensating over $3.9 million to veterans yearly due to negligence or disabilities. One of the most significant incidents of negligence was at Camp Lejeune.
Camp Lejeune is a Marine Corps base built in 1941 in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Countless marines – and their families – stayed there for training over the years with no known knowledge of any complications in the water supply. It was later discovered that the water at Camp Lejeune carried toxic, cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene, vinyl chloride, tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and trichloroethylene (TCE). Tragically, many marines or veterans developed illnesses, cancer, or died from this exposure. It was later discovered that the government knew about these toxic chemicals and did not act.
On March 14, 2017, the Camp Lejeune Presumptive Conditions bill addressed the dangerous conditions of the contaminated water supply at the base. This bill stated that servicemembers who could prove they served there at least 30 days during the specified timeframe, should be presumed to have a “service-connected disability” if they have one or more of the eight specified diseases, and should be entitled to Veterans Administration (VA) benefits.
Then, in the summer of 2022, the U.S. Congress passed the Honoring Our Pact Act and it was signed by President Biden. This act includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act and other related matters regarding toxic exposures in the military and is more focused on class action lawsuits than the previous bill. This bill aims to help the veterans and families of those exposed to the harmful chemicals at Camp Lejeune. In addition to addressing the water contamination, this act also serves to help protect veterans’ rights.
Because Camp Lejeune was such a horrifying incident, the case has continued to get media coverage despite the toxic chemicals only contaminating the water between 1953-1987. This event has helped raise awareness for ensuring our military’s conditions are safe and sanitary.
When situations like this occur, the Department of Veterans Affairs will intervene. The VA’s primary purpose is to provide aid and financial compensation to veterans who suffered physically or mentally from their military service. While benefits can be substantial, winning these claims is often challenging as the VA regularly denies claims. However, seasoned legal counsel could help you ensure that your claim is not rejected and that your appeal is pursued correctly.