By Sandra Basu
WASHINGTON — With the signing of a new law, healthcare was made available to veterans and their families affected by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, NC, during a 30-year period.
The bill was passed as part of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 and will provide VA medical coverage for certain illnesses to veterans and their families who served at Camp Lejeune between 1957 and 1987. For family members, VA will be the “payer of last resort” after other healthcare resources are exhausted.
Between 1957-1987, thousands of Marines and their families stationed at Camp Lejeune were exposed to toxic well water before the contaminated wells were shut down by the mid 1980’s. Questions have since arisen about the health impact of that exposure, and federal research continues to examine the issue.
President Barack Obama signs the “Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012,” in the oval office last month. (Official White House Photo)
“This bill ends a decade-long struggle for those who serve at Camp Lejeune,” President Barack Obama said last month at the bill signing ceremony. “Some of the veterans and their families who were based in Camp Lejeune in the years when the water was contaminated will now have access to extended medical care.”
Among those who attended the bill signing were Jerry Ensminger, a Marine Corps veteran, and Mike Partain, who was born at Camp Lejeune. Both were instrumental in drawing attention to the issue with their personal stories.