Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Victims to Receive Financial Relief
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it will begin covering health care expenses for toxic water victims. Marine dependents who fell victim to cancer and other illnesses from toxic water exposure at Camp Lejeune, NC will have their out-of-pocket health care expenses paid in full.
Overdue Assistance for Camp Lejeune Victims
Victims have been waiting years for relief, the toxic water problems dates back to the mid-1950s. But every now and then, legislators make promises to address these issues. Just two years ago, Congress passed the landmark Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act. The act promised expanded healthcare coverage, caregiver support, improved mental health services, and much more. In the end, veterans who simply seek what they’re owed faced problems such as funding limitations, administrative complexities, and limited availability of VA mental health treatment.
The 2012 law provided health care for Marines and family members who had lived on the base from 1957 to 1987 and who suffered from any of 15 illnesses named in the law. These include cancers related to the lungs, bladder, breasts, kidneys, and esophagus, as well as leukemia and problems involving female infertility.
Polluted drinking water containing harmful chemicals, a dump site on base, leaking underground storage tanks, and an off-base dry cleaner exposed approximately 750,000 people. The VA immediately provided full care for veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune with the 2012 law, but it also implemented a waiting period to reimburse their dependents who had incurred covered illnesses.
The most recent announcement from VA means they’ll begin reimbursing family members later this year. This reimbursement will cover health care costs incurred since March 26, 2013 – the date on which Congress appropriated the funding. VA planned a document on health care for veterans who served at least 30 days on active duty.
Real-Life Impact of Toxic Water
McClatchy, the news site, interviewed two individuals who experienced the effects of the toxic water. Retired Marine Jerry Ensminger’s 9-year-old daughter, Janey, died of leukemia in 1985, and Mike Partain, who was born at the base, has suffered from male breast cancer.
The two initiated and spearheaded a long fight to pass the 2012 law. These veterans both have voiced their displeasure with the delay in dispursing financial relief. Saying this, “As far as I’m concerned, so many people have already died. They just keep dragging this thing out,” Ensminger said.
Partain said “institutional apathy and incompetence” is the reason it took two years to write and approve the regulations. For now, at least, the victims of Camp Lejeune can celebrate a step in the right direction.
Contact Legal Help For Veterans, PLLC Today
Legal Help For Veterans, PLLC is a nationwide VA-Accredited Disability Law Firm in Northville, Michigan. We help veterans service-connect their disabilities incurred during service with Veterans Affairs. We can help you with a New Disability Claim, Appeal at VA, and/or Increased Disability Rating. To submit a free claim evaluation, please call (800) 693-4800 or visit our website.