Did You Serve at Camp LeJeune?
Over the past several years, there has been considerable attention in the media to the past contamination of the water supply at Camp Lejeune. From 1953 to 1987, the water supply was contaminated with TCE, PCE, benzene, vinyl chloride and “other compounds.” For background information on the problem, see https://clnr.hqi.usmc.mil/clwater/Site/background_information.html
Based on legislation passed in 2012, VA now recognizes the medical problems caused by this water contamination. There are two components to the VA response.
First, VA health care benefits may be available. These are available for veterans and family members, who served on active duty or lived at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days, from January 1, 1957 to December 31, 1987. The law noted 15 conditions which may be related to exposure to the contaminated water supply: esophageal cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, lung cancer, bladder cancer, multiple myeloma, renal toxicity, female infertility, miscarriage, sclerodoma, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, hepatic steatosis, and neurobehavioral effects. If you or your family members lived at Camp Lejeune for 30 days during that period and currently suffers from any of these conditions, you may be eligible for health care benefits from VA. For VA’s fact sheet, see https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/camp-lejeune/index.asp
Second, for veterans who served on active duty at Camp Lejeune, disability benefits may be available. To file a claim for disability benefits, you must
1. have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions,
2. served at Camp Lejeune between August 1953 and December 1987, and
3. provide medical evidence that you have a current condition and a medical opinion that the condition is related to your exposure to the contaminated water.
For more information from VA, see https://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/claims-postservice-exposures-camp_leguene_water.asp
VA is not specific as to what “current conditions,” it will consider – however, it is likely that any of the 15 conditions mentioned for health care benefits are good candidates. Unfortunately, VA takes the position that there is not sufficient evidence of a connection between any of these conditions and the exposure to the contaminants in the water supply to justify a presumption that they are related. Because of this, it will be important for you to obtain a medical opinion that states that your condition is related to the water contamination and fully explains the basis for the opinion.
Even if you submit your own medical opinion, VA is very likely to obtain an opinion from a VA physician regarding the connection between your condition and the water contamination. Because of this, it is especially important that the opinion you submit be clear and well supported.