By Sandra Basu
WASHINGTON — About 15,000 veterans would be eligible for expanded disability compensation because of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, NC, between August 1953 and December of 1987, change to: according to the VA.
It might be a while before a program is in place, however.
VA announced in December that it will propose a presumption of service connection related to Camp Lejeune for the following conditions:
- Kidney Cancer
- Liver Cancer
- Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
- Multiple Myeloma
- Parkinson’s Disease
- & Aplastic Anemia/Myelodysplastic Syndromes
This is expected to ease the process for veterans to receive benefits because it will be presumed that the listed condition was caused by military service.
“The water at Camp Lejeune was a hidden hazard, and it is only years later that we know how dangerous it was,” VA Secretary Robert McDonald said in a recent statement about the Camp Lejeune water contamination.
VA’s proposal would also expand benefits eligibility to Reserve and National Guard personnel who served at Camp Lejeune for any length of time from August 1, 1953, through December 31, 1987.
“The VA is finally granting some justice to veterans who were exposed to contaminated drinking water while assigned to Camp Lejeune,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said after VA’s announcement.
“This is a victory for those who have long suffered as a result of the toxic exposure to chemicals while serving our country at Camp Lejeune,” added Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC).
In August, VA announced it was beginning the process of amending its regulations to establish presumptions of service connection for certain conditions resulting from exposure to the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune.
Weeks after that announcement, lawmakers urged the agency to move quickly to ensure veterans with conditions linked to all toxic exposures receive benefits.
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