Camp Lejeune is a military training facility located in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Built in 1941, Camp Lejeune is still an active Marine Corps Base today. Between 1953 and 1987, however, nearly one million marines (and their families) stationed at Camp Lejeune were subjected to harmful chemicals that were found in the water. These chemicals were the volatile organic compounds trichloroethylene (a metal degreaser), perchloroethylene (a dry cleaning agent), benzene, and vinyl chloride. The water at Camp Lejeune is believed to have had concentrations of these chemicals from 240 to 3400 times the levels permitted by safety standards.
Although there were signs as early as the 1980s that the toxic water from Camp Lejeune was connected with illnesses developed by those who served in the camp, it wasn’t until 2010 that the first veteran received a 100% disability rating for cancer (Multiple Myeloma) linked to toxic water exposure in Camp Lejeune. This is believed to be the first time the government admitted to the link between the contamination and illnesses.
Since the link between water contamination and illnesses has been established, there have been a number of government initiatives meant to right those who have been impacted. For example, the Janey Ensminger Act, passed in 2012, assigns the VA to provide medical care to those impacted by up to fifteen diseases associated with service at Camp Lejeune. The bill was named after the daughter of an engineer who worked at Camp Lejeune. The girl, Janey, died at age nine from cancer after growing up on the base.
There are several symptoms associated with that exposure, but more importantly diseases. Diseases that the VA will likely find to be presumptive to service in Camp Lejeune, meaning that you can receive a disability rating depending on the extent of your symptoms. Some of those diseases include:
In addition diseases associated with service in Camp Lejeune, you can also be eligible for cost-free healthcare from the VA if you have any of the following qualifying health conditions:
If you served at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987, and you have conditions that I haven’t mentioned, you may still be entitled service connection through the VA. The VA says on its website: “Presently, these conditions are the only ones for which there is sufficient scientific and medical evidence to support the creation of presumptions; however, VA will continue to review relevant information as it becomes available. Veterans who are experiencing other health conditions that they think may be related to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune are encouraged to contact their primary care provider and to file a claim.”
If you are curious for more information on the VA and their policies on Camp Lejeune, please click here.
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