By Debbie Gregory.
From 1953 through 1987, people serving or living at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, were potentially exposed to water contaminated with industrial solvents, benzene, and other chemicals. This chemical exposure may have led to adverse health conditions.
In 2009 the U.S. federal government initiated investigations into the allegations of contaminated water and failures by U.S. Marine officials to act on the issue. In February 2014, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that the contaminated water at Lejeune significantly increased the risk of multiple cancers including liver, kidney, and ALS. In August 2012, President Obama signed the Janey Ensminger Act into law, in honor of Jerry Ensminger and his daughter Janey, who died of cancer at age 9, to begin providing medical care for people who may have been affected by the contamination.
The qualifying health conditions include the 15 specific ailments believed to be linked to the contamination, including cancer of the esophagus, lung, breast, bladder or kidney; leukemia; multiple myeloma; myleodysplasic syndromes; renal toxicity; hepatic steatosis; female infertility; miscarriage; scleroderma; and/or neurobehavioral effects or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Veterans who are determined to be eligible will be able to receive VA health care. In addition, care for qualifying health conditions is provided at no cost to the Veteran (including copayments). Make sure to inform the VA that you served on active duty at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days during the covered time period. If you’re already enrolled, contact your local VA health care facility at http://www.va.gov/ directory/guide/ to sign up for the Camp Lejeune Program and receive VA care. Otherwise, apply online at http:// www.va.gov/healthbenefits/apply/ or call toll-free 1-877-222-8387. *Note- A Camp Lejeune veteran does not need to have one of the 15 health conditions to be eligible to receive VA health care, nor do they need a service connected disability to be eligible as a Camp Lejeune Veteran for VA health care.
Eligible family members can receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical expenses incurred from the treatment of qualifying health conditions after all other health insurance is applied. You must show your relationship to a Veteran through a marriage license or birth certificate. The VA will assist you in verifying residency on Camp Lejeune during the covered timeframe. Gather up your reimbursable expense receipts and apply online at https://www.clfamilymembers.fsc.va.gov or call toll-free 1- 866-372-1144.
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Paying Out for Lejeune Contaminated Water Exposure: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory