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The Side Effects from Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune

Posted by Berry Law on June 27, 2022 in Contaminated Water

For years, the U.S. Department of Defense knowingly exposed military servicemembers and their families to hazardous water contamination at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Those stationed at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987 were exposed to volatile organic compounds – which even at the time were known to cause many negative health impacts.

In 2015, VA recognized some of the harms caused by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, and identified a number of disabilities that VA will automatically grant disability benefits for to Veterans who served at Lejeune from August 1953 through December 1987. VA has also decided to automatically grant healthcare benefits to servicemembers and their families for some additional conditions thought to be caused by water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

And now, as of June 2022, Congress is making significant progress on a law that would add additional remedies for those harmed by Camp Lejeune water.

Automatic Benefits for Some Conditions

Currently, VA regulations allow for automatic service connection and disability compensation for certain conditions for Veterans who served for at least 30 days in Camp Lejeune between August 1953 and December 1987:

  • Kidney Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Adult Leukemia
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Aplastic Anemia and Other Myelodysplastic Syndromes, and
  • Bladder Cancer

If a Veteran has one of the conditions above and served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1953 and December 1987, then they can get service connection and disability compensation for the condition.

In addition, Veterans and their dependents can get healthcare or reimbursement for healthcare based on Camp Lejeune service during 1953 to 1987 for the following conditions:

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Female Infertility
  • Hepatic Steatosis
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung Cancer
  • Miscarriage
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Myeloplastic Syndromes
  • Neurobehavioral Effects
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and 
  • Parkinson’s Disease

Other Health Effects Linked to Camp Lejeune Water

There are additional disabilities that could be caused by exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, even though they’re not automatically recognized by VA.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the health effects of exposure to volatile organic compounds include:

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
  • Damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system
  • Conjunctival irritation
  • Dyspnea (trouble breathing)
  • Declines in serum cholinesterase levels
  • Nausea
  • Emesis (vomiting)
  • Dpistaxis (nose bleeds)
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Visual disorders 
  • Memory impairment

If Veterans or their family members were stationed at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987, and experience any of the conditions above, it might be worth seeking VA benefits.

Possible New Right to Sue

As of June 2022, Congress is making progress on a bill that would allow those exposed to water contamination at Camp Lejeune to sue the U.S. government for harm caused by the exposure. Currently, Veterans and their family may only seek VA disability compensation and healthcare (or reimbursement for healthcare). But if this bill passes and is signed into law by the President, then Veterans and their families could also sue for damages.

There’s a time limit to sue for Camp Lejeune exposure, and winning damages could affect your VA disability compensation or other benefits—so it’s important to speak with a knowledgeable attorney about the possibility of getting more money to compensate you for your exposures at Camp Lejeune.

Are other diseases being considered for Camp Lejeune compensation?

Exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between August 1953 and December 1987 has resulted in a number of presumptive conditions, which include adult leukemia, aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, Non-Hodkin’s lymphoma, and Parkinson’s disease.

In addition to these conditions, the VA has yet to conclude that there is sufficient evidence for presumptive service connection for the following conditions. Scleroderma, breast cancer, lung cancer, esophageal cancer, neurobehavioral effects, renal toxicity, hepatic steatosis, and female infertility are all conditions that research suggests could become presumptive conditions should the science continue to indicate that a connection exists between exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and the above listed conditions.

It is difficult to say how long it will take for any one of those conditions to become presumptive, due to the nature and limitations of scientific research, but should their presumptive status change, additional veterans will have access to benefits that they are currently denied.