If you lived at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina between August 1953 and December 1987 and have a diagnosis of aplastic anemia or another myelodysplastic syndrome, you likely qualify for disability and/or healthcare benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Water contamination at Camp Lejeune has been linked with a long list of health concerns, including aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). As of April 2022, only VA benefits and healthcare support are available. However, there may soon be an option for those affected to file a lawsuit and recover compensation for lost income, additional medical needs, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Understanding What Happened at Camp Lejeune Between 1953 and 1987
It seems unfathomable that the U.S. Marine Corps exposed its service members and their families to contaminated water for over 30 years, but this is exactly what happened. Those stationed at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River drank, cooked with, washed clothes with, and showered in water with dangerously high levels of several contaminants, including:
- Trichloroethylene (TCE)
- Perchloroethylene (PCE)
- Vinyl chloride
- Other potentially dangerous compounds
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), scientific and medical research into these contaminants has led them to list several diagnoses as presumptive conditions for VA disability benefits. This includes aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes.
Family members who developed a related condition from Camp Lejeune contaminant exposure can file a claim for healthcare benefits that includes reimbursement for their out-of-pocket expenses. In addition to aplastic anemia, these conditions include:
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Female infertility
- Hepatic steatosis
- Esophageal cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Lung cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Renal toxicity
Treating Aplastic Anemia and Myelodysplastic Syndromes
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndromes are relatively rare diagnoses. However, they occur more frequently in those who were stationed at Camp Lejeune than in the general public.
These disorders occur because of harm to the bone marrow. This injury prevents the marrow from producing enough blood cells or making unhealthy cells that cannot function properly.
Aplastic anemia usually requires a multi-pronged approach that includes:
- A bone marrow transplant
- Immunosuppressive therapy
- Blood transfusions
MDS can be more difficult to cure, so supportive care is often the focus of treatment.
Filing a Claim for VA Disability or Healthcare Benefits
Veterans usually have to show they have a disability, they suffered an in-service injury or exposure, and there is a link between the two to qualify for VA disability. There are special rules that apply to those previously stationed at Camp Lejeune, though. Some injuries are presumed to come from in-service exposure to water contaminants, and there is no need to demonstrate a link.
To get VA disability or for a family member to receive reimbursement for medical care costs, you should just have to show:
- You were stationed at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
- You were stationed there for at least a month.
- You have a diagnosis listed among the presumed conditions.
Because the possible period of exposure stretches for more than 30 years, there could be thousands of people who qualify. According to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), almost a million people were exposed to the dangerous contaminants in the water supply on these U.S. Marine Corps stations.
What Can I do If a Family Member or I Was Exposed?
If you or a family member has a health condition linked to contaminated water exposure, such as aplastic anemia or another myelodysplastic syndrome, an attorney handling these cases can help you:
- File your claim for VA benefits
- Fight a denial
- Discuss the possibility of a lawsuit
If there is a future lawsuit against the liable parties, you could also qualify to join.
As of April 2022, Camp Lejeune water lawsuits are still barred by federal law. However, currently proposed legislation aims to offer a route to financial recovery for those who were exposed and have a related health concern.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill allowing these lawsuits to move forward in March 2022. It is in the Senate as of April 19, 2022.
Discuss Your Pptions with a Camp Lejeune Contamination Lawyer’s Team Today
You can call the team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC to learn more about your options for compensation if you or a loved one suffers from a diagnosis related to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. We provide free case consultations because we believe it is important to understand and protect your rights. Reach out to us today to get started.