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Pros and Cons to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Ruling

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.

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    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 .

    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.

    Have had issue after issue since leaving the Corps and Camp Lejeune. Have had acid reflux for years, stomach issues and skin issues. How do I get involved?

    Give our firm a call, we would be happy to speak with you about a potential claim. 866-866-8387

    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.

    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

    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…

    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.

    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.

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

    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.

    Parkinson’s Disease is classified as a neurobehavioral effect.

    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

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

    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 !

    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

    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

    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

    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?

    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

    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).

    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!,

    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.

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

    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.

    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

    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.

    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!

    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.

    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 !!

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

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

    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.

    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.

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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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?

    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?

    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.

    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.

    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!

    What about civil service employees that worked on base for 30+ years.

    Civil employees may be entitled to free health care services through the VA Medical Center. You would need to go to your local VA Medical Center to see if you qualify.

    I have Systemic Mastocytosis which mirrors everything about Mylodeplastic Syndrome. I have been denied 2 times. Both Mastocytosis and MDS are considered myeloproliferative neoplasm. I have just sent in another appeal. This is so frustrating.

    Hi Cheryl, We would be happy to discuss your VA Claim with you. We can be reached directly at 866-866-8387.

    How difficult is it to get a discharge status upgraded to honorable? My brother in law was at Camp Lejeune in the 70’s and now has esophageal cancer and Parkinson’s. He had dishonorable discharge though.

    Mr. Colson,
    Unfortunately, we do not handle discharge upgrades. He can apply through the Department of Defense. Our law firm handles veterans disability benefits.

    Recent diagnosis of Prostate Cancer. Stationed at CL 1979 & 1980 – French Creek area. Not one of the 8, however, a VA rep said to file paperwork anyhow. Should I expect this to result in a Service Related illness due to Camp Lejeune Toxic Water issue?

    McAfee,
    We would be happy to discuss your Camp Lejeune claim with you. We can be reached at 866-866-8387 or we would be happy to contact you.

    I was there from 97-01…as of yet nothing but thanks for the list of stuff to look out for.

    We are sorry to hear that. We would be happy to discuss your claim with you. We can be reached at 866-866-8387.

    I was at Camp Geiger 71-72. Have 2 open surgeries, several procedures for aneurysms in my aorta, type 1 diabetes n stage 1 kidney disease. Would I have a potential claim?

    my best friend just had a kidney removed 3 years ago . he got 70% after being denied by the Va . go after them. we were 3rd blt 8th marines there from 1970 to 1971

    I was Station at New River Mag 26…1965-68…went to voice radio school which station there. Why not New River.. I am 74 and have early stage of lymphoma

    We would be happy to speak with you regarding your VA Claim, we can be reached at 866-866-8387.

    Having suffered prostrate cancerI can’t help but feel sorry for these Veterans.

    I HAVE PITUATERY TUMOR AND ASMA DOES THAT QUALIFY I WAS IN 1976 TO1980

    We are very sorry to here that. In the new rule for Camp Lejeune, the VA presumption applies to active-duty, Reserve and National Guard members who served at Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 30 days (cumulative) between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987, who 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
    Parkinson’s disease

    We would be happy to discuss your claim in more detail. We can be reached directly at 866-866-8387.

    I have bad rashes . I had rashes when I was at Lejeune and it was on my medical records as well as severe headaches. I now have tremors . I have be denied 3 times and I am now waiting for a judge advocate hearing . been 6 years and still fighting.

    Renny, we are sorry to hear that. We would be happy to discuss your claim with you to see how we can assist. We can be reached directly at 866-866-8387.

    I was stationed in Lejeune mainside for most of the year 1969. I am currently being evaluated for kidney cancer (left side) but not confirmed. How long does it take to have your claim confirmed? And should I put a claim in before it is confirmed. I heard it could take a year or more.

    We would be happy to discuss your claim with you in more detail. We can be reached at 866-866-8387.

    Every time we loaded up a raise we would pick up supplies and water in aviation fuels at this base, the VA says I’m not eligible because I was never station there I was only a lph 7 ship and we pick up Marines and our base materials water food. From this base !

    I was stationed at Camp Lejeune from 95-98. We later found out that there was a leaking heating oil tank buried in our backyard that had been there since the 40s. Soil contamination levels were so high the house was demolished and the lot remains empty. My wife suffered multiple miscarriages. Our dog died of bladder cancer. It’s insane that dependents are not covered.

    We are sorry to hear that. We would be happy to discuss your claim with you. We can be reached at 866-866-8387.

    My dad was a Master Sgt, in Marines for 20 yrs and retired, my Mom died of Multiple Myeloma. I want justice. What can I personally do to change the “qualified years”? Folks were there 1949 – 1952 and I was born there on base. What is the best approach to contact congress and get approval for dependents and deaths that occurred when we know that this issue was there before 1943? I just need to know how to approach this and I’ll do whatever I need to do.

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