Pros and Cons to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Ruling

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

By: Ryan Spencer, Veterans Disability Benefits Attorney

VA published a final interim rule today regarding Camp Lejeune Water Contaminated Veterans, 82 FR 4173. The effective date for this rule is March 14th, 2017 and no earlier. To be eligible for benefits under this new ruling you must meet the below requirements.

  • Valid discharge for Veterans Benefits still required. Other Than Honorable (OTH) and Dishonorable Discharges (generally speaking) are barred from benefits. However, there are exceptions.
  • Must have served in active duty military, Reserves or National Guard. This rule creates an exception for Reservists and National Guard members in that, regardless of their type of service, they will be considered “Veterans” for these specific disabilities under this specific rule.
  • Must have served 30 days at Camp Lejeune.
  • Must have a qualifying disability:
    • Kidney cancer
    • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
    • Adult Leukemia
    • Liver cancer
    • Bladder cancer
    • Multiple Myeloma
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndromes

Pros

  1. Adds new conditions that were not part of the ‘Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012’.
  2. Includes Reservists and National Guard members that otherwise would not be eligible for VA benefits due to a lack of active duty service or active duty for training purposes period of service.
  3. The 30 days of service at Camp Lejeune can be consecutive or non-consecutive.

Cons

  1. No retroactivity on current claims. The rule only applies to new and pending claims as of March 14th, 2017. That means if you have or will be denied your claim before March 14th, 2017, this new rule does not apply.
  2. No spouses or children are eligible for compensation benefits under this rule. Compensation benefits are solely for veterans.
  3. The new list of diseases differs greatly from the ‘Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012’ list. The following conditions that are eligible for health care but not for compensation benefits are listed below:
    1. Esophageal cancer
    2. Lung cancer
    3. Breast cancer
    4. Renal toxicity
    5. Hepatic steatosis
    6. Female infertility
    7. Miscarriage
    8. Scleroderma
    9. Neurobehavioral effects.
  4. Service records shall be the sole source of authority on whether a Veteran had 30 calendar days of service at Camp Lejeune.
    1. Without evidence in official service department records documenting official orders or assignment to serve, either in an individual capacity or as part of a larger unit, at Camp Lejeune, a claimant does not meet the evidentiary standard for presumptive service connection. As such, without military orders or other official service department records reflecting service at Camp Lejeune, veterans, former reservists or National Guard members who served aboard vessels that docked at Camp Lejeune during the period of contamination are not eligible for presumptive service connection under the provisions of this rule.
  5. The term “Camp Lejeune” does not include any surrounding bases, including but not limited to: Cherry Point or the Marine Corps Air Station New River.

Overall the rule can be considered good and bad. It is good because it expands the scope of coverage to include National Guard and Reservists who otherwise would not be eligible for benefits. Additionally, it adds some diseases not allowed under the prior 2012 Act. However, it is troubling that older cases that have been denied and appealed are barred from using this rule in upcoming decisions. As it stands, current Veterans who have appealed prior claims have no right to use the provisions of this new and favorable rule solely because their case was already denied. Essentially, it is as if the rule was never passed into law. Additionally, we are bothered by the VA’s reliance on service records as the sole source of authority on whether a Veteran was stationed at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more. In a perfect world the Department of Defense and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs would maintain all records perfectly and never lose said records. Unfortunately, time has proven otherwise. The VA and DOD have repeatedly lost, destroyed or “misplaced” records. For Veterans who are the victim of this mishandling of records, there is no recourse. Finally, we are disappointed that the VA refuses to create a special class for eligibility purposes for the families that lived on base with the Veteran. To deny spouses and children, especially those who were born on base, compensation akin to the Veteran is essentially the same as saying “You don’t matter.” Based on VA’s reasoning for this denial, Congress should delegate specific authority to the VA to enable such a class to be created for this specific rule.

At Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban, P.C. we’re determined to see all Camp Lejeune veterans get the benefits they deserve. Call us from anywhere in the nation at 866-866-VETS or contact our office online.

23 Comments

  1. avatar james Hollingsworth
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    I am so glad that finally the Corps has actually honored its word . So many sick Veterans really deserve this so much. I also think it is an insult to all the dependents that are dying because you poisoned them. They have admitted a problem, a serious problem that a lot of us care a whole lot about. I am a Veteran and I am also a child born on your base to a mother that died from your poison. My whole family has been destroyed and yet not one single apology to my family. I only represent one person in one family, but i plan to stand for all that have been affected .

    • Posted January 23, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      We are sorry to hear about this. Do you need assistance with a claim?
      Please know we are here to help if you need us.

    • avatar George Sharkey
      Posted July 1, 2017 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      I was in Camp Lejeune and Monford point 47 years ago so I would think any problem I would have would have happened within say 40 years.

      • Posted July 13, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        Mr. Sharkey, Please let us know if you would like to discuss your VA Claim, we would be happy to assist. We can be reached at 866-866-8387. Thank you

  2. avatar Robert m Haines
    Posted January 22, 2017 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Don’t understand why the families are not being treated with the same respect. I was born at Camp Lejeune as a dependent in 1952 as was my brother in 1953. I have kidney cancer and later became a veteran. Do we not matter…

    • Posted January 23, 2017 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      The VA’s hands are tied, they can only help the veteran who were active duty when exposed. It’s up to Congress can change the rule to help dependents, etc.

  3. avatar David Allen Smith
    Posted February 19, 2017 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    You know how wrong that is. I was kicked out of the Marine’s after coming

    home from dessert storm I have an oth because I had PTSD before it was ever diagnosed but I can’t get treatment because I can’t afford it I was with 2nd combat engineer battalion 2nd Marine division camp Lejeune I breached the mine belts so all other ground forces could get through im just one of thousands of veterans our government has screwed over an to not let people who were kicked out get benefits even though they suffered just as much as honorable discharges that says it all

    • Posted February 21, 2017 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      Mr. Smith,
      Is there something we can help you with? Do you need assistance getting your Veterans Disability Benefits?

  4. avatar TED A. PLOTKE
    Posted March 22, 2017 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    Dehydration was boarder line clean water wasn’t supplied at times while In the field war games were canceled If temp got over a certain temp How do you determine If you qualify because VA Is a circus back logged and never see a doctor

  5. avatar David johnson
    Posted March 30, 2017 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    I was at camp Geiger in 1983 for infantry training school now have stage 4 kidney disease with renal failure can anyone help with a claim

    • Posted March 31, 2017 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      We would be happy to speak with you regarding your claim or you can contact us at 866-866-VETS (8387). Should we reach out via email?

  6. avatar Lance Newlin
    Posted April 7, 2017 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    I was stationed at camp lejune twice once for school at courthouse bay, then when I returned from overseas at mainside. I was diagnosed with cluster headaches, had a pituitary tumor.
    removed and now have prostate cancer will qualify for disability benefits

    • Posted April 17, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Mr. Newlin, We are sorry to hear that. We would be happy to discuss your claim with you. You can contact us at 866-866-VETS (8387).

  7. Posted April 11, 2017 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    The 30 day rule is BS! I was ther in 57, I have had prostate cancer and now Luckemia!
    I’ve been waiting for 18 freaking months!
    My buddy was there the same time and he has had both feet apputated
    Plus we both were on Oky in early 60’s. Orange death!,

    • Posted April 17, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Mr. Davis, I am sorry to hear this. Please feel free to contact our firm at 866-866-VETS (8387). We would happy to discuss your claim.

  8. avatar Steven R. Jones
    Posted April 24, 2017 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I have been told i have a cancer cell in my esophagus they called it Barrett’s Esophagus does that mean anything ?

    • Posted May 5, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      We would be happy to speak with you about your disability benefits claim. You can contact us directly at 866-866-VETS (8387) or contact us through our website.

  9. Posted April 30, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    I served at Camp Lejune in 1968. I have Hep C and have had hundreds of skin cancer ranking from melonomas to basil cell. I am not sure any of these are symtems relate to Lejune

    • Posted May 5, 2017 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      We would be happy to speak with you about your disability benefits claim. You can give us a call directly at 866-866-VETS (8387) or contact us through our website.

  10. avatar Alan Grier
    Posted May 30, 2017 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    I had both Kidney and Bladder Cancer, signed up 5 years ago. The Marine sent me updates every month, after it was official for compensation have NOT heard from them, no letters etc.

  11. avatar Lewis Higgins
    Posted July 22, 2017 at 2:03 am | Permalink

    I was turned down earlier and appealed. I had bladder cancer in 2007, and filed a fully developed claim with all medical records. I do have copies of orders showing 45 days of service at Lejeune in 1966. My claim has been in the appeal process for over a year.

    • Posted July 25, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Mr. Higgins, we are sorry to hear this. Would you like to be contacted regarding your claim?

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