By Buddy Blouin
When military personnel sign up for the Armed Forces, there is an explicit expectation that risk to their health and lives may be involved. Unfortunately, there are times when such risks go beyond what is normally expected, placing the lives of those willing to sacrifice for our country in undo levels of danger that could otherwise be avoided. Such is the case for many of those who served at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River in North Carolina. Exposure to hazardous materials due to Camp Lejeune water contamination has been linked to the drinking water troops may have been exposed to from August 1, 1953, through December 31, 1987. Learn more about your options, if you qualify for disability benefits, and what the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) is doing to help rectify this issue.

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What Caused Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the water contamination at Camp Lejeune was caused by drinking water for the military base being exposed to trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride, and other contaminants. “Water from the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant was primarily contaminated by PCE (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene). The source of the contamination was the waste disposal practices at ABC One-Hour Cleaners, an off-base dry cleaning firm.” Two of the eight water treatment plants on base were discovered to contain specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the drinking water used by troops. The end result meant a wide range of potential negative health effects including the following:
  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease
These threats could also have caused adverse birth effects as well as other possible health issues to those working on the base during that period.

Is Camp Geiger Part of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

The water treatment stations that served drinking water to troops at Camp Geiger were not found to be contaminated and are separate. However, because the camp is part of the larger installation, it’s possible for Veterans who served to have still been exposed to Camp Lejeune's contaminated water during their time there. Here are the qualifications you’ll need to fall under to be eligible for benefits:
  • From August 1953 through December 1987, you spent at least 30 cumulative days at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River.
  • Your military discharge wasn't dishonorable.
Both of these qualifications must be met, after which potential compensation and/or healthcare may be provided for the following issues:
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Female infertility
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Miscarriage
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Renal toxicity
  • Scleroderma
These forms of compensation are available to Veterans, Reservists, and Guardsmen who qualify, as well as their family members. Additional personnel should seek their own legal counsel, as each case is different.

Is Camp Lejeune Water Still Contaminated?

Today, Camp Lejeune’s water is checked each quarter to ensure that it’s safe to drink. Since 1987, this has been found to be the case. Although March 1987 is when the base’s water was found to be contaminate-free, those who were serving at the installation through the end of the same year may still be eligible for compensation.

How To File a Claim for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

If you or a loved one have been affected by Camp Lejeune water contamination health issues, you have options. Legal options are available from any number of law offices, but the VA can also assist with providing you or your family with both compensations due to out-of-pocket costs from related healthcare and/or direct healthcare services for such issues. Camp Lejeune water contamination settlement amounts are expected to total more than $6.5 billion, and while all legal advice should be taken from a licensed lawyer, the VA has set up a resource page explaining exactly what is needed to provide eligibility for VA benefits, including proof of healthcare services, eligibility requirements, necessary documentation, and more.



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