Lejeune vets could have bad-water claims

Staff Report

LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Veterans Service Office is looking for veterans who may be among those exposed to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune.

The Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington published regulations in January to establish presumptions for the service connection of eight diseases associated with exposure to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune.

For help obtaining compensation, veterans may call Chris Oxendine, director of the Robeson County Veterans Service Office, or Joanie Blunt, Veteran Services officer, at 910-671-3071 or 910-671-3070.

The presumption of service connection applies to active duty, reserve and National Guard members who served at Camp Lejeune for a cumulative minimum of 30 days between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987, and are diagnosed with any of the following conditions: adult leukemia; aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes; bladder cancer; kidney cancer; liver cancer; multiple myeloma; non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; and Parkinson’s disease.

“We have a responsibility to take care of those who have served our nation and have been exposed to harm as a result of that service,” said Robert A. McDonald, secretary of Veterans Affairs. “Establishing a presumption for service at Camp Lejeune will make it easier for those veterans to receive the care and benefits they earned.”

Environmental health experts in VA’s Technical Workgroup conducted comprehensive reviews of scientific evidence, which included analysis and research done by the Department of Health and Human Service’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the Environmental Protection Agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the National Toxicology Program, and the National Academies of Science.

Veterans with 30 or more cumulative days of active duty service at Camp Lejeune during the contamination period already are eligible for certain medical benefits after passage of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012.

In the early 1980s, volatile organic compounds, the metal degreaser trichloroethylene and the dry cleaning agent perchloroethylene and benzene and vinyl chloride, were discovered in two on-base water supply systems at Camp Lejeune. The contaminated wells supplying the water systems were shut down in February 1985.

The area included in this presumption is all of Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River, and satellite camps and housing areas.

Staff Report

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