By Debbie Gregory.
Lee Anne Walters noticed that the tap water in her Flint, Michigan home had an orange tint to it. Her twin boys also had rashes. Doctors confirmed one of the boys was showing signs of stunted growth.
The Walters were living in Flint because Lee Anne’s husband, Dennis Walters, was stationed there.
Walters sent a sample of her water to the EPA, expecting it to take care of the problem.
It took 11 months for the EPA to issue an emergency order in Flint. The lead levels in Walters’ home were twice the level considered to be toxic waste.
The family feels that Lee Anne’s criticism and advocacy during the water crisis has caused workplace retaliation and harassment against Dennis, a sailor with the US Navy.
The 17-year Navy veteran has filed a complaint claiming mistreatment at work due to his wife’s role in the Flint water crisis.
In a complaint filed last week, Dennis claims that he has been repeatedly mistreated at the Sewells Point Police Precinct, which is part of Naval Station Norfolk, because his wife has been so outspoken.
“Since I testified at the state Senate hearing, things got progressively worse,” Lee Anne Walters said. “They threatened to force him into a hardship discharge if he didn’t get me under control.”
Lee Anne Walters says the family has been careful to respect protocol and keep her husband out of the advocacy efforts. She says her criticism of the EPA and the slow response to the water crisis in Flint has caused her husband problems at work.
Two years later, now living in Virginia where Dennis is stationed, the Walters family is still dealing with the effects of the crisis. Both boys, now 5, suffer from health issues.
Lee Anne continues to testify in Congress and bring attention to the issue.
“They were demeaning me on a daily basis to my husband, that my job as a military wife is not to be a crusader,” Lee Anne Walters said. According to court documents, he was “effectively demoted, and reduced to administrative details that had the effect of completely removing him from any leadership role within the command.”
Dennis Walters is requesting a transfer to another unit within the Navy.