Veterans’ Corner: Contaminated water at Camp Lejeune

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 15, 2017

By Rick Johnson, USAF retired, Rowan County Veteran Services Officer

Contaminated water at Camp Lejeune

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) plans to expand disability compensation eligibility for Veterans exposed to contaminated drinking water while assigned to Camp Lejeune.

Water sources at Camp Lejeune were contaminated from 1953-1987 with industrial solvents that are correlated with certain health conditions. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs has proposed presumptions of service connection for certain conditions associated with these chemicals.

The drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, benzene and other petroleum contaminants from leaking storage tanks. It has been determined that prolonged exposure to these chemicals increases the risk of certain health conditions.

Based upon the results of multiple studies, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs proposes that the VA acknowledge the relationship between exposure to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune (in unknown quantities) and the subsequent development of the following health conditions (for Veterans): kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, adult leukemia, liver cancer, bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease, aplastic anemia, and other myelodysplastic syndromes.

The VA is working on regulations that would establish these presumptions, making it easier for affected Veterans to receive VA disability compensation for these conditions.

The VA cannot grant any benefit claims based on the proposed presumption of service connection for these conditions until it issues its final regulations. However, it now encourages Veterans to file a disability compensation claim with VA. Veterans who have a record of service (30 days or more) at Camp Lejeune between Aug. 1, 1953-Dec. 31, 1987, and develop a proposed presumptive condition should contact their VSO to start their paperwork.

Be aware, if a claim for service connection for one of the proposed presumptive conditions is denied under current regulations, the denial will be stayed until VA issues its final regulations.

VA will announce when the regulations are final and presumptive benefits can begin to be awarded.

Also be aware that the VA is reimbursing certain veterans’ family members for eligible out-of-pocket medical expenses related to 15 covered conditions.

In accordance with the 2012 Camp Lejeune health care law, the VA will provide cost-free health care for certain conditions to Veterans and/or their families who served at least 30 days of active duty at Camp Lejeune from Jan. 1, 1957 -Dec. 31, 1987.

For more information, contact the Rowan County Veterans Service Office at 704-216-8138, located in West End Plaza, 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd. West, Suite A-2.

Problems with the VA? Call 844-NC4-VETS (Toll Free)

Homeless Veteran? Call 877-424-3838 (Toll Free)