New Legislation Issues Benefits to Veterans from Camp Lejeune

There has been a recent push to address the fact that older U.S. military bases have had problems with toxic chemicals. For many years, veterans and their families have suffered due to their exposure to contaminated drinking water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

In 2017, a bill went into effect that identified Camp Lejeune’s eight presumptive conditions that have been connected to contaminant exposure. If a servicemember was on that base for at least 30 days during the years 1953 to 1987, their diagnosis of one of those eight conditions is presumed to be connected to the exposure. This allows them access to benefits from the Veterans Administration (VA).

In 2022, President Biden signed legislation to deliver more comprehensive health care and benefits to veterans affected during their service. The Honoring Our PACT Act is a nationwide plan that includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, which provides further protections than the 2017 bill and allows for class-action lawsuits.

The Dangers of Camp Lejeune

Camp Lejeune, a marine corps base camp in Jacksonville, North Carolina, is known for assault training and fast deployments. From 1953 to 1987, an estimated 900,000 veterans, family members, and civilians were exposed to unsafe drinking water there. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has linked this contamination to sources such as nearby industrial spills, off-base dry-cleaning firms, and underground storage tanks.

Some of the chemicals in the water wells included Trichloroethylene (TCE), Perchloroethylene (PCE), Benzene, and Vinyl chloride. The medical conditions caused by these toxic chemicals include the following eight presumed conditions that qualify someone for VA benefits:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act

This act focuses on providing some level of justice for four decades of water contamination and the severe health problems caused by it. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows individuals exposed to the toxic water in the camp a brief window of time to file lawsuits. This allows those individuals to recover damages and streamline their disability claims with the VA.

Who Can File a Claim for Water Contamination Illnesses?

To file a benefits claim with the VA, you must have lived at least a minimum of 30 days at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987. Although the VA’s overall approval rate for claims from Camp Lejeune is only 17%, the new Camp Lejeune Justice Act will make it easier for veterans to get the help they need. If you have been diagnosed with one of the eight presumptive diseases after being stationed at Camp Lejeune, you may be eligible for service-connected benefits. Contact our firm today for help.

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