VA PLANS TO APPROVE BENEFITS FOR VETERANS EXPOSED TO CONTAMINATED WATER AT CAMP LEJEUNE

 

 WASHINGTON:

 

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today that it plans to propose expanded disability compensation eligibility for Veterans exposed to contaminated drinking water while assigned to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.  

1953 to 1987:

 

Water sources at Camp Lejeune were contaminated from 1953 till 1987 with industrial solvents that are correlated with certain health conditions.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert A. McDonald, decided to propose presumptions of service connection for certain conditions associated with these chemical solvents following discussions between environmental health experts at the Veterans Health Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

 

 “The water at Camp Lejeune was a hidden hazard, and it is only years later that we know how dangerous it was,” said Secretary McDonald.

“We thank ATSDR for the thorough review that provided much of the evidence we needed to fully compensate Veterans who develop one of the conditions known to be related to exposure to the compounds in the drinking water.”

 

ATSDR:

This agency determined that the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, benzene and other petroleum contaminants from leaking storage tanks from 1953 to 1987.  ATSDR also determined that prolonged exposure to these chemicals increases the risk of certain health conditions.

 

Based upon VA’s review of current medical science and ATSDR’s findings, Secretary McDonald intends to propose creation of a  presumption of service connection for the following conditions:

·        Kidney Cancer

·        Liver Cancer

·        Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

·        Leukemia

·        Multiple Myeloma

·        Scleroderma

·        Parkinson's Disease

·        Aplastic Anemia / Myelodysplastic Syndromes

 

The Secretary’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.

These personnel would be presumed to have been exposed to the contaminated water during their Reserve or National Guard service and, in appropriate circumstances, to have been disabled by such exposure during service, thus allowing them to qualify for VA benefits under the statutory definition of “Veteran.”

This would make them eligible for VA disability compensation and medical care for any of the presumptive conditions, and their surviving dependents would be eligible for dependency and indemnity compensation and burial benefits.

VA is working on regulations that would establish these presumptions, making it easier for affected Veterans to receive VA disability compensation for these conditions.

While VA cannot grant any benefit claims based on the proposed presumption of service connection for these conditions until it issues its final regulations, it encourages Veterans who have a record of service at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and develop a condition that they believe is related to exposure to the drinking water at the base, to file a disability compensation claim with VA.

VA will continue to grant claims for disabilities claimed to be associated with exposure to the contaminants that can be granted under current regulations and review of the evidence in each case.

If a claim for service connection for one of the proposed presumptive conditions would be denied under current regulations, the denial will be stayed until VA issues its final regulations.

VA will announce when the regulations are final and presumptive benefits can begin to be awarded.

 

Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, are already eligible to receive VA healthcare for up to 15 health conditions.

VA is reimbursing certain veterans’ family members for eligible out-of-pocket medical expenses related to the 15 covered conditions.

VA is reimbursing certain veterans’ family members for eligible out-of-pocket medical expenses related to the 15 covered conditions.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 14, 2017

 

 VA’s Rule Establishes a Presumption of Service Connection for Diseases Associated with Exposure to Contaminants in the Water Supply at Camp Lejeune 

VA to provide disability benefits for related diseases 

 

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regulations to establish presumptions for the service connection of eight diseases associated with exposure to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune, N.C. are effective as of today.

 

“Establishing these presumptions is a demonstration of our commitment to care for those who have served our Nation and have been exposed to harm as a result of that service,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David J. Shulkin. “The Camp Lejeune presumptions will make it easier for those Veterans to receive the care and benefits they earned.”

 

The presumption of service connection applies to active duty, reserve and National Guard members who served at Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 30 days (cumulative) between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, and are diagnosed with any of the following conditions:

 

adult leukemia 
aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
bladder cancer
kidney cancer 
liver cancer 
multiple myeloma 
non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma 
Parkinson’s disease 

 

The area included in this presumption is all of Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River, including satellite camps and housing areas. 

 

This presumption complements the health care already provided for 15 illnesses or conditions as part of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012. The Camp Lejeune Act requires VA to provide health care to Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune, and to reimburse family members, or pay providers, for medical expenses for those who resided there for not fewer than 30 days between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987.

 

 

 

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