Late Breaking News
Bill Helps Camp Lejeune Veterans Impacted by Toxic Water
WASHINGTON, DC—A bill that will make health care available to veterans and their families who have been impacted by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune passed the House this week and was sent to President Obama for his signature.
The bill was passed as part of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 and approves VA medical coverage for certain illnesses to veterans and their families who served at Camp Lejeune between 1957 and 1987. Under the bill, for family members VA will be the “payer of last resort.”
The House passage of the bill followed the Senate’s passage of the bill in July.
“This has been a long time coming, and unfortunately, many who were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune over the years have died as a result and are not with us to receive the care this bill will provide,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) said in a written statement after the Senate passage of the bill. “While I wish we could have accomplished this years ago, we now have the opportunity to do the right thing for the thousands of navy and marine veterans and their families who were harmed during their service to our country.”
Burr’s office said in a press release that an “estimated 750,000 people may have been exposed to probable and known human carcinogens in the base’s water supply between the 1950s and 1980s,” making this is the largest recorded environmental incident on a domestic DoD installation.
Advocates have for years pushed for the passage of such a bill and have told Congress about their personal stories. One vocal advocate who has been instrumental in drawing attention to the issue, retired marine Jerry Ensminger, has said he believes his nine-year-old daughter’s death from childhood leukemia is linked to exposure to the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune.
Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said that the legislation “will make an immediate impact in the lives of veterans, their families, and survivors by providing the care and support they have earned through their service to our nation.”
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