United States veterans who spent time at Camp Lejeune as part of their time in the military may have been around the contaminated water between 1953 and 1987. Those who were at this base during this time may be eligible for disability benefits through the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Those who have served in the U.S. military have selflessly served their country. While there is always a certain level of risk with military service, it should not be from training centers with contaminated water. If the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 becomes law, many impacted individuals could have the option to file lawsuits against the government.
What Happened to the Water in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina?
In North Carolina, there are two facilities used by the US Marines: Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River in North Carolina. People at these facilities between August 1953 through December 1987 likely used the contaminated water.
The Marines and their families did not know about the contamination for years. In 1982, it came to light that the water on these bases contained trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride. Authorities shut down the most dangerous water well supply in 1985.
What Was the Impact of the Water Contamination in Camp Lejeune?
People exposed to the chemicals in Camp Lejeune’s water are at an increased risk of several types of cancer and other health problems. In addition, exposure can impact unborn children and lead to issues during pregnancy and birth.
The health risks vary based on several factors, per the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR):
- The amount of toxic water that you came into contact with
- How your exposure happened, and for how long
- When you came into contact with the water, such as the risk difference between exposure in utero and exposure as an adult.
Because of the chemicals found in the water at Camp Lejeune, several possible health problems can develop, specifically many types of cancer, including:
- Kidney cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Bladder cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
Problems can also happen during pregnancy, such as an increased risk for miscarriages or fetal development problems. Babies born to mothers exposed to these chemicals may have a higher risk for neural tube defects, low birth weight, and cleft lips.
Other potential health problems include end-stage renal disease and Parkinson’s disease.
How Can U.S. Veterans Get Help with a Camp Lejeune Case?
Currently, U.S. veterans and others the contaminated water impacted cannot sue the government for compensation. However, veterans and their families can apply for disability benefits through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Veterans must meet specific criteria to qualify for benefits. If they are eligible, they can get health care and compensation payments.
Eligibility requirements include the following:
- You must have served at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune or the Marine Corps Air Station New River for thirty days or more between August 1953 and December 1987.
- You must not have received a dishonorable discharge.
- You must have one or more of eight specific health conditions.
Going through the VA is one of the main ways to get financial help for the health costs of contaminated water exposure. Other people who may qualify for payments through the VA include family members who were also exposed, reservists, and guardsmen.
If specific legislation passes, more opportunities for compensation will open up.
What Is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022?
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 is a bill the House of Representatives passed in March 2022. The Senate still needs to approve it.
Currently, veterans cannot sue the U.S. government for compensation related to exposure to the contamination at Camp Lejeune. This is mainly because North Carolina has a statute of repose that bars people from filing lawsuits after a particular time has passed. The trouble is that the health problems from exposure sometimes don’t appear until years later, such as cancer development.
This act would override the statute of repose’s time limit, allowing those hurt to seek compensation. If the bill passes, veterans will have two years to file lawsuits. They will likely need appropriate legal representation as they seek financial compensation for health care costs related to their condition.
Get a Free cConsultation with us Today
At Ben Crump Law, PLLC, we take veterans’ claims seriously. We want you to get the compensation you deserve after exposure to dangerous substances at Camp Lejeune.
When you have a consultation with us, we will explain and help you understand your options and the types of compensation you could be eligible for. We will always help you with filing important paperwork and keeping your case on track so that you meet all deadlines related to your case. You can start with a free consultation. Call us to speak with a member of our team today.