Camp Lejeune water contamination

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By Bob Kibler

    From the 1950s to the 1980s, Veterans and family members living or serving at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina were potentially exposed to drinking water contaminated with chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including industrial solvents and components of fuels.
    On August 6, 2012, President Obama signed into law the “Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012.” For Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune between 1957 and  1987, this law provides VA health care for 15 medical conditions. Support for health care costs may also be provided for family members for these conditions once Congress appropriates funds and new regulations are published.
    The new law requires VA to provide health care for the following illnesses or conditions:

Bladder cancer
Breast cancer
Esophageal cancer
Female infertility
Hepatic steatosis
Kidney cancer
Multiple myeloma
Myelodysplastic syndromes
Neurobehavioral effects
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Renal toxicity
Lung Cancer

    To be eligible for care under this law, the Veteran must have served on active duty at Camp Lejeune for not fewer than 30 days between January 1, 1957, and December 31, 1987. Veterans who are eligible for care under the Camp Lejeune authority, regardless of current enrollment status with VA, will not be charged a copayment for health care related to the above illnesses or conditions, nor will a third party insurance company be billed for these services.    Copayments for care unrelated to the above illnesses or conditions may be applicable.
    Before VA can provide health care to covered family members, funds must be appropriated by Congress, and final regulations published. Once funds and regulations are in place, a family member will need to show documentation that the Servicemember was stationed at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days, their relationship to the Camp Lejeune Servicemember (i.e., marriage license or birth certificate), and proof of residency on Camp Lejeune for not fewer than 30 days between January 1, 1957, and December 31, 1987 (i.e., copies of orders, base housing records, etc.). VA will be the final payer for health care related to the 15 covered conditions after payment has been made by your other health insurance plan, Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE.
    Veterans can contact their VA health care provider or their nearest VA health facility, which may be located by calling 1-877—222—VETS (8387) or visiting www.va.gov/directory.
    If you believe you have health problems related to the water at Camp Lejeune, you may file a claim for disability compensation (this is separate from the new law). These claims will be decided on a case-by-case basis. You can file for disability benefits online at www.ebenefits.va.gov, or contact your nearest VA Regional Office at 1-800-827-1000.
    Source for this article is U.S. Dept.of Veterans affairs
    For more information contact the Service Officer for American Legion Post 16 at (434) 401-7335  for assistance. The office, located in American Legion Post 16 home at 1301 Greenview Drive, Lynchburg, is open for walk-ins 10 am to 3 pm on Tuesdays and by appointment (10 am to 3 pm) on Thursdays.