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On Monday, President Obama signed into law the bill we discussed on the blog last week. Camp Lejeune Marines and their families who served between 1957 and 1987 will now be eligible to receive medical care for certain illnesses caused by contaminated water at the base.
In a signing ceremony at the White House, the President stated that Americans “have a moral, sacred duty toward our men and women in uniform.” He continued by saying, “They protect our freedom and it’s our obligation to do right by them. This bill takes another important step in fulfilling that commitment.”
Congress passed the bill last week with bipartisan support in the House and Senate. Health officials estimate that between 750,000 and 1 million service members and their families were exposed to the contaminated water.
The new law will allow those who served or lived at Camp Lejeune for more than 30 days between January 1, 1957 and December 31, 1987 to receive medical care. Some of the illnesses they can receive treatment for include:
Water tests showed the presence of chemicals such as benzene and vinyl chloride. The contamination was tied to leaking fuel tanks and an off-base dry cleaner.
One of the Marines that fought for passage of the bill, Jerry Ensminger, attended the signing. He had been fighting for more information regarding the contaminated water since 1985 when his nine-year-old daughter died of a rare form of childhood leukemia.
There have been concerns that Marine leaders were slow to act when they discovered the contamination. However, the new law will allow those injured to receive medical care.
Source: CBS News, “Obama signs bill for Camp Lejeune water victims,” Aug. 7, 2012.
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