Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina, was plagued by contaminated drinking water for over three decades. From 1953 to 1987, the residents faced hazardous exposure to volatile organic compounds and harmful chemicals at the base.
In 1982, Camp Lejeune water contamination was identified, but residents weren’t alerted until 1985. The base’s water supply was not fully cleaned up until 1987.
Veterans and families continue battling for compensation due to health issues resulting from Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water exposure. Despite complexity and challenges, veterans and families remain resolute in holding the government accountable for the harm endured.
In this article, we will explore the journey of Camp Lejeune veterans, discovering the intricacies of their legal struggle.
Overview of Camp Lejeune’s Contamination
The contamination can be primarily attributed to the infiltration of toxic chemicals into the base’s drinking water supply. TorHoerman Law states that the VOCs and other harmful chemicals were found in two of the eight water treatment facilities serving the base.
Among the hazardous substances discovered were trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride. They are all known carcinogens with severe health implications.
As per DrugWatch, historical records reveal the presence of hazardous substances like PCE, TCE, and benzene in the water supply. Shockingly, the contamination at times exceeded acceptable levels by a staggering 300-fold.
The contamination endured for decades, impacting multiple generations of military personnel, families, and base workers. The toxicity of these chemicals has been linked to an array of devastating health issues. It included a significantly elevated risk of cancers, neurological disorders, reproductive problems, and developmental abnormalities in newborns.
Legal Avenues and Class-Action Lawsuits
Camp Lejeune veterans and their families have two main legal avenues for seeking compensation, i.e., through the VA and lawsuits.
Veterans may be eligible for VA benefits for health conditions presumptively service-connected to their exposure to contaminated water. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, these conditions include cancers, notably bladder, breast, and kidney. Also, these conditions entail neurobehavioral effects and reproductive issues, including miscarriage and infertility.
These veterans may also be eligible to file lawsuits against the government for their exposure to the contaminated water. The PACT Act created a new pathway for veterans to file these lawsuits.
Class-action lawsuits can serve as a potent means for veterans and their families to pursue justice. These lawsuits enable individuals with similar claims to collectively file a lawsuit against a defendant. It results in a more efficient and cost-effective approach compared to pursuing individual legal actions.
If you are considering filing a class-action lawsuit for water contamination, searching for the best lawyers for the Camp Lejeune lawsuit is crucial. Hire an experienced lawyer with a proven track record of success representing veterans. You may choose one according to your budget and convenience.
These programs represent crucial lifelines for individuals grappling with debilitating health conditions and the economic burden of medical bills.
Various compensation programs have been instituted to address the dire health consequences of base contamination. The Camp Lejeune Family Member Program (CLFM) offers healthcare benefits to family members who lived at the base during the contamination period. The Camp Lejeune Historic Drinking Water Program provides reimbursement for related medical expenses.
Also, the Federal Medical Benefits Program ensures healthcare access for military personnel exposed to the contamination. The enactment of the Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act in 2021 represents a significant milestone. It widens the scope of disability compensation eligibility, offering greater support to veterans afflicted by toxic exposures at the base.
Ongoing Legal Battles
The legal battle for the veterans and their families is ongoing. In 2022, the PACT Act was passed, which expanded eligibility for compensation to include more veterans and family members and more health conditions. The PACT Act also created a new pathway for veterans to file lawsuits against the government for their conditions.
Over 93,000 water contamination claims have been filed under the CLJA. As per NBC News, these claims are currently being processed by the Department of Justice. Legal actions initiated by these victims are progressing at a slow pace.
Several class-action lawsuits are also pending against the government for the Lejeune water contamination. These lawsuits allege that the government failed to protect residents from the contaminated water. Also, the government knew about the contamination but failed to warn residents.
Impact on Veterans and Families
The impact of water contamination on veterans and their families has been devastating. Countless individuals faced exposure to toxic substances, resulting in severe health issues like cancer, birth defects, neurological disorders, and kidney disease.
Many veterans have been unable to work due to their health problems. Others have incurred significant medical expenses. The contamination has also had a profound impact on veterans’ families. Many families have lost loved ones to cancer or other health problems caused by the contamination. Others must deal with the challenges of caring for a loved one with a critical illness.
Many veterans have been forced to retire early due to their health problems. Others have had to reduce their work hours or take on part-time jobs. The contamination has also increased medical expenses for veterans and their families.
Besides the physical ailments linked to water contamination, veterans and families endure profound emotional and psychological distress.
Advocacy and Awareness
The base veterans and their families have been fighting for justice for decades. Several advocacy groups have been formed to support veterans and their families. Dedicated advocacy groups tirelessly promote awareness of the water contamination crisis and advocate for legislation benefiting veterans and their families.
Also, several individuals have stepped forward to raise awareness of the crisis. Some of these individuals are veterans themselves, while others are family members of veterans. They’ve shared their narratives with the media and the public, aiming to boost awareness and inspire others to join the cause.
Thanks to the efforts of advocates and veterans, the crisis is now widely known. Yet, there remains a significant amount of progress to be made. Numerous veterans and their families continue to encounter challenges in securing the compensation and benefits rightfully owed to them.
To Wrap It Up
Camp Lejeune veterans’ enduring legal fight reflects their relentless spirit amid the hardships caused by the base’s tainted water. Returning from service, these brave individuals confronted a new battle requiring a determined commitment to seek justice for their suffering.
They seek not just compensation but also acknowledgment of their sacrifice and validation of their suffering. Their pursuit ensures a future safeguarded from such tragedies for those who serve their nation. The legal fight of veterans endures a symbol of hope and a resolute promise to honor past sacrifices. Their commitment ensures the past’s sacrifices remain remembered and meaningful.