Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Linked to Numerous Diseases
New VA rule clarifies benefits for service members
For decades, drinking water contamination at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina from 1953 to 1987 has been suspected of causing deadly diseases among high numbers of veterans who lived there. In 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs promulgated a rule creating a legal presumption that certain conditions were service related and eligible for healthcare benefits. Finally, on January 13, 2017, the VA issued a new rule creating a legal presumption that certain diseases are eligible for disability benefits. At Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban, our attorneys have been working for years to help Camp Lejeune veterans obtain the VA disability benefits they deserve. The new rule, effective March 14, 2017, should make the process much easier for disabled service members.
Diseases linked presumptively to Camp Lejeune service
Most disability claims require proof that a condition is service related. But when the VA creates a presumption that a condition arose from service in a particular place at a particular time, the applicant for benefits need only show the existence of the disabling condition and a record of service at the required place and time.
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
While the new presumption covers Camp Lejeune service of Reserve and National Guard personnel, expanding the VA’s statutory definition of “veteran,” which was previously limited to active-duty service members, those service members must become disabled during active-duty service to qualify. Our attorneys are ready to assist veterans throughout the United States.
Background history of Camp Lejeune water contamination
According to the Camp Lejeune water contamination study done by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), two water distribution systems on the base showed evidence of contamination.
The Tarawa Terrace water distribution system contained contaminated water from June 1957 through March 1985. The contamination source was an off-base dry cleaning business with a septic system that released cleaning fluid into the ground. When toxic contamination was detected, the Tarawa wells shut down in 1985.
The other water distribution system that led to Camp Lejeune water contamination was at Hadnot Point. Leaking underground fuel storage tanks contaminated these wells. In 1984, Camp Lejeune personnel discovered contamination during a water quality sampling. Eight of the 39 Hadnot Point wells and one of the seven Tarawa Terrace wells were identified as contamination sources and led to the camp abandoning these wells in 1985.
File your claim or appeal now for VA disability benefits
If you have filed a claim for benefits and have been denied by Veterans Affairs, an attorney may be able to help with your appeal today.
The new rule only applies to new or pending claims that have not been decided yet, effective March 14, 2017. The provisions to this rule do not apply to cases that were filed and decided prior to March 14, 2017.
Let Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban stand up for your Camp Lejeune benefits
Many Camp Lejeune veterans have had to endure a long, frustrating process and unjustified denials of their claims. If your application has been denied, Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban can help, anywhere in the country. Contact us online or call 866-866-VETS. Someone is always available to talk to you, even if you cannot come to our offices.