A final rule from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that establishes presumptive service connection for service members who served at Camp Lejeune and were exposed to contaminated water takes effect this month.
The regulation impacts veterans, to include National Guard and Reserve personnel, who served at the Jacksonville, N.C. base for a cumulative 30 or more days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, and later developed one of eight medical conditions outlined in the Federal Register: adult leukemia, aplastic anemia and other myelodysplasia syndromes, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Parkinson’s disease. The rule takes effect on March 14, 2017.
“We have a responsibility to take care of those who have served our nation and have been exposed to harm as a result of that service,” said then-VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald in a release announcing the rule. “Establishing a presumption for service at Camp Lejeune will make it easier for those veterans to receive the care and benefits they earned.”
In the early 1980s, industrial solvents, benzene and other chemicals were discovered in the on-base water supply systems at Camp Lejeune. The VA’s Technical Workgroup conducted extensive reviews of scientific evidence and research from other agencies to examine the effects on those exposed.
Despite covering certain medical conditions under VA health care, the Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 did not make disability compensation presumptive for veterans made ill due to water contamination.
“DAV strongly supported passage of the Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012,” said DAV Washington Headquarters Executive Director Garry Augustine. “Now five years later, we could not be more pleased that this long-overdue rule means veterans can now better access the benefits to help them as they face these chronic illnesses.”
Veterans who have health conditions that they believe may be related to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune can contact a DAV national service officer for assistance filing a claim. Find your local NSO at www.dav.org/veterans/find-your-local-office/. For more information from the VA on water contamination at Camp Lejeune, visit www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/camp-lejeune/.