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 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.

44 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 Tom LoCascio
    Posted January 31, 2017 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    My first claim was submitted 5 yrs ago after my cancerous left kidney was removed. I was hoping for some back pay. Let’s see what happens.

  4. avatar Michael DTurner
    Posted February 4, 2017 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    I would like to know why other diseases like RA and having shortness of breath but not COPD.

  5. avatar william hines
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    i have stage 3 chronic kidney disease,
    and have a claim pending.
    renal toxicity is on the non 8 list, am i correct that it is not recognized as a nexus to the claim?
    i was stationed at camp lejeune from 1976 – 1979 3 years.

  6. avatar R.Brown
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Parkinson’s Disease is classified as a neurobehavioral effect.

  7. 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?

  8. avatar Cynthia Good
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    It is sad that we can’t get anything for the spouses who stood by as the veterans suffered ! My husband just died of ,liver,kidney and heart failure ! He served 6years in the Marines during V,N. and was stationed at Camp Lejeune during g the time stated ! I feel this. Is just a way for the government again to screw the Veterans over ! Am i bitter,yes I am ,but with time I will get over it ,but it still is not fair ! I assume that the ones who voted for this are either healthy and have never served !

  9. avatar Hortencia Z
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Well I was station @Camp Lejuene 179-1981 yet have no cancer but Gastric issues which may lead to Cancer yet the VA says I wasn’t even there haha

  10. 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

  11. 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?

  12. 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).

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. avatar Mike Eddy
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    The ailments that the government /VA have posted that you must have the above is all bullshit.Those are just the ones that people either died from or are dying from to date.The fault for this travesty rests on the government, the individuals,and the people who allowed this to happen,The Government.What is,if any agency is doing for the military members who have yet developed one of those ailments????I spent four years at Camp Lejeune during the make up time period.I have ailments that not on that list.So does that make me expendable in the eyes of the Marine Corps,and the government agency that did this to us without our knowledge?Had this incident come to light when it first occurred instead of the blaten disregard for human life,the deaths could have been avoided and the others would not have a death sentence hanging over their headsWhat happened to Semper Fidelis?Im sure the Marines were aware this was going on, they had too,it’s their base.They should change their motto for something less proud!

  17. 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.

  18. avatar James
    Posted June 11, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I was stationed at Camp Geiger ’74-’76 and was on Camp Lejeune a lot and i contacted, hepatitis C which the medical pp at the VA in Gainesville Fl said that most likely i got it while in the USMC. I’ve read some literature that said hepatitis was one of the effects from the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune is this true !!

    • Posted August 31, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately, since Hepatitis C is a viral infection it is unrelated to chemical pollution.

  19. avatar Gary jacobs
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    I was at camp Lejeune in 1972.I now have barrett esophagus. Can I do a claim with that??

    • Posted August 30, 2017 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Our Veterans Disability Benefits Paralegals would need to get some additional information from you. We would be happy to reach out via email or you can contact us directly at 866-866-8387.

  20. 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?

  21. avatar Raymond Cutway
    Posted July 26, 2017 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Not only did I drink the water but used some of the same chemicals to wash parts. Have breast cancer,Barrera, and the VA refuses to treat either. I am 100% service connected from having to have my knees replaced and back injury.

    • Posted August 30, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      Raymond, We are sorry to hear this. We would be happy to discuss your claim with you. Would you like us to email you? We can also be reached at 866-866-8387.

  22. avatar Sharon Betts
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Our family was stationed at Camp Lejeune -we all have had cancer. My father had melanomas and prostrate cancer. My mother had breast cancer,and I had cervical and uterine cancer. I went to school at Camp Lejeune when my Dad was stationed ar New River. We lived right outside of Montford Point. We lived in a contaminated area,even though my dad was stationed at New River. He passed away 9 years ago. No one cares. No one cares what we suffered with our health,in a family with no history of cancer,there are all 3 of us and the linj is Camp Lejeune. Sad. For all the families and service personnel that are or have suffered,this is just unconscionable. The blessing is those that will be helped. We don’t qualify for help, so please don’t offer. Thankyou for those that you will help. Thank you all,for your service and sacrifice. Healing prayers and positive energy your way.

  23. avatar Jimmy Aycock
    Posted September 6, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I also had Hep C and liver stenosis. Had to take shots in stomach and meds which kept me violently sick for over 3 months. Was at Camp Leguene 1975. Now I have liver damage. We should be compensated for at least pain and suffering.

    • Posted September 6, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Jimmy, We are sorry to hear that. Can we assist you with your VA Claim? We would be happy to help. You can reach us at 866-866-8387 or we can email you directly?

  24. Posted September 14, 2017 at 2:55 am | Permalink

    At Lejeune 19 75 to 76 I have COPD ALSO DAUGHTER SEVERELY DISABLED STOMACH PROBLEMS THAT ARE HARD TO DIAGNOSE, DO WE HAVE TO DIE TO GET RECOGNIZED?

    • Posted September 14, 2017 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      We are sorry to hear that you are having these problems. We would be happy to discuss your claim with you. Would you like us to reach out via email? You can also call us directly at 866-866-8387.

  25. Posted October 5, 2017 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    It is so sad they only List a very few of the issues that We Face I spent 3 years there on Active duty and the studies say it affects at least 3 generations,It has Given me Auto-Immune Hepatitis Primary Biliary Chirossis and Hepatic Stenosis and none can be claimed as a disability. I think the root cause to all of our issues is the it Weakens and or Kills our Immune system and the result of that is any number of diseases. They want to Deny until we Die and not take responsibility for their actions or Lack of actions.

    • Posted October 6, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      We are sorry to hear this. Please let us know if we can assist you with your VA Claim, we would be happy to help!

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