Personnel stationed at Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River from 1953 through 1987 may qualify for compensation. As a result of a severe water contamination problem, affected people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease qualify for presumptive coverage under the Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012.
What Happened at Camp Lejeune?
In 1982, water testing at two treatment facilities supplying water to Camp Lejeune was discovered to have significant contamination. Upon investigation, it was revealed that the contamination began in 1953.
The affected treatment facilities were Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point. Both wells remained in use until being shut down in February 1985 due to the contamination.
What Chemicals Were Involved?
The primary contaminant at the Tarawa Terrace facility was perchloroethylene (PCE). It was the result of an off-base dry cleaner disposing of solvents improperly. The illegal dumping began as early as 1953. Groundwater contamination did not reach unsafe levels until 1957.
The contamination at the Hadnot Point facility involved numerous chemicals, and it was more challenging to pinpoint the origin. The primary contaminant was trichloroethylene (TCE), but the facility also contained vinyl chloride, Benzene, and other toxic compounds.
Hadnot Point contamination was caused by leaks from underground storage tanks, on-base chemical spills, and improper storage of chemicals.
The primary contaminants are known carcinogens, and exposure can cause numerous health problems for affected persons. Suppose you have questions about whether you qualify for compensation; you may wish to locate a law firm familiar with the problem.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative neurological disorder. The illness progresses as the cells of the nervous system break down. Five stages denote the progression of the disease.
Stage One begins with mild symptoms that don’t interfere with everyday activities. Slight tremors may be noticeable on one side of the body, and changes in posture may be evident.
Stage Two brings worsening symptoms, including losing balance and slower movement. Tremors and rigidity may be noticeable on both sides of the body. Daily tasks may start to be more difficult.
Stage Three, also called mid-stage, brings significant changes to balance and movement. Falls become frequent and may impact activities.
Stage Four is when most patients require a walker and assistance with daily routines. At this stage, most patients cannot live independently.
Stage Five patients may not be able to stand or walk. They may require a wheelchair or be bedridden. Some patients have delusions and hallucinations and may need 24/7 nursing care.
Reduced Quality of Life
The progression of the disease is caused by a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which affects coordination and movement. Additional symptoms which influence the quality of life include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Speech problems
- Urinary problems
- Difficulty swallowing
- Cognitive changes
As the disease progresses, more symptoms may become evident.
How Is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed?
Doctors base their diagnosis on symptoms, medical history, and monitoring neurological and physical changes. There is not a simple test but rather a progression of tests that target Parkinsonian Syndrome.
How Is Parkinson’s Disease Linked to Water Contamination?
In a report published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2011, a study concluded that TCE has a significant link to the development of Parkinson’s disease.
VA lists Parkinson’s disease as one of the eight conditions listed for presumptive coverage from the Camp Lejeune contamination.
Presumptive Coverage for Parkinson’s Disease
Presumptive coverage means that a condition is considered service-related for healthcare under VA if certain conditions are met. For Parkinson’s disease and Camp Lejeune, the conditions include:
- Residence at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or longer between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
- Be a veteran, National Guard member, or reservist.
- Have a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
Suppose you or a family member meet the conditions for presumptive coverage; you may qualify for compensation regardless of when you received the medical diagnosis.
Filing for Presumptive Coverage
Parkinson’s disease is considered a progressive condition. VA does not require applicants for presumptive coverage to be at a specific stage. Once a diagnosis has been made, you should apply for coverage.
To support your claim for benefits, you will need:
- Military records that show residence at Camp Lejeune during the covered period.
- Medical or treatment records that document your diagnosis.
In addition to the presumptive coverage, which covers your medical needs through the VA medical system, you may qualify for additional compensation. It may be beneficial to locate a law firm specializing in veterans benefits to assist you.
Finding the Answers You Need with Ben Crump Law, PLLC
When you have questions, finding one place that either has or can find the answers you need can be priceless. The attorneys at Ben Crump Law, PLLC have the answers you need. Contact our team for a free consultation to discuss your options.