Passage of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act as part of the larger PACT Act has focused attention once again on the contaminated water at the base between 1953-1987. Our own Ron Gionta–USAF veteran, retired VA Outreach Specialist Ron Gionta, and the VBC’s resident “Veteran-in-the-Know”–shared the following information about Camp Lejeune water contamination claims.
From 1953 to 1987, water sources at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune were contaminated with industrial solvents.
Two on-base water wells that were shut down in 1985 had these chemicals:
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Perchloroethylene (PCE)
- Vinyl chloride
- Other compounds
In January 2017, the VA published a rule to create service connection for eight disabilities associated with these contaminants in the base water supply.
Effective March 14, 2017, the Veterans Benefits Administration published amendments to the Code of Federal Regulations (38 CFR 3.307 and 3.309) to include eight presumptive diseases and eligible claimants involved in Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water (CLCW) claims.
The eight presumptive diseases were:
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
The eight presumptive diseases were added in 1017 for:
- Service members, former reservists, National Guard members on official orders
- Who served 30 days (consecutive or nonconsecutive) at Camp Lejeune
- Between August 1, 1953 to December 31, 1987 (known as contamination period).
The amendment specifically allowed former reservists and National Guard members to establish veteran status by presuming that a covered disease was incurred in the line of duty.
In addition to the eight presumptive diseases listed above, the following conditions are also eligible for cost-free health care at the VA to veterans who served as Camp Lejeune during the contamination period:
- Breast cancer
- Renal toxicity
- Female infertility
- Lung cancer
- Hepatic steatosis
- Neurobehavioral effects (like headaches, lack of coordination, sensory disturbances, cognitive decline, and mental health conditions)
The Camp Lejeune Family Member (CLFM) Program is for family members of Veterans who were stationed at Camp Lejeune from August 1, 1953, through December 31, 1987. The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 requires the VA to reimburse CLFM for eligible health care costs related to one or more of the above illnesses or conditions.
You will need the following evidence to apply for a claim as a family member.
- A document proving your relationship to the Veteran who served on active duty for at least 30 days at Camp Lejeune (like a marriage license, birth certificate, or adoption papers), and
- A document proving that you lived at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River for at least 30 days from August 1953 through December 1987 (like utility bills, base housing records, military orders, or tax forms), and
- Medical records that show you have one of the 15 conditions listed previously (as well as the date the illness was diagnosed and that you’re being treated or have been treated in the past for this illness)
- And you’ll need to provide evidence that you paid health care expenses for your claimed condition
Here are important websites to consult as you consider your claim: