VA’s proposes rule to consider certain diseases associated with exposure to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune

VA to provide presumptive service connection for related diseases


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VA has published proposed regulations to establish presumptions for the service connection of eight diseases affecting military members exposed to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The presumptive illnesses apply to active duty, reserve and National Guard members who served for no less than 30 days at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, and are diagnosed with 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

“We have a responsibility to take care of those who have served our nation and have been exposed to harm as a result of that service,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald. “Establishing a presumption for service at Camp Lejeune will make it easier for those Veterans to receive the care and benefits they deserve.”

Environmental health experts on VA’s technical workgroup conducted comprehensive reviews of scientific evidence, which included analysis and research done by the Department of Health and Human Service’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Environmental Protection Agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the National Toxicology Program and the National Academies of Science.

Military members with records of service showing no less than 30 days of service, either concurrent or cumulative, at Camp Lejeune during the contamination period can already be granted Veteran status for medical benefits, following passage of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012.

In the early 1980s, volatile organic compounds, trichloroethylene (TCE), a metal degreaser, and perchloroethylene, a dry cleaning agent (PCE), as well as benzene, and vinyl chloride were discovered in two on-base water supply systems at Camp Lejeune. These systems served the housing, administrative and recreational facilities, as well as the base hospital. The contaminated wells supplying the water systems were shut down in February 1985.

VA acknowledges that current science establishes a link between exposure to certain chemicals found in the water supply at Camp Lejeune and later development of one of the proposed presumptive conditions. However, VA experts agree that there is no scientific underpinning to support a specific minimum exposure level for any of the conditions.  Therefore, VA welcomes comments on the 30-day minimum exposure requirement and will consider other practical alternatives when drafting the final rule.  VA also notes that the proposed 30-day requirement serves to establish eligibility for service connection on a presumptive basis; nothing in this proposed regulation prohibits consideration of service connection on a non-presumptive basis. The 30-day public comment period on the proposed rule is open until Oct.10, 2016.

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Comments

  1. Beth Walsh    

    This has been “on the way” for years! All the while I have a sister slowly dying from a myriad of problems after lengthy exposure – only one of her 12 conditions falls within the preferred diseases one could contract from this exposure. Still, no help…. no one to talk to unless you have 12 hours a day for months to sit on hold only to get the run around and told to call elsewhere once a human actually answers the phone….. the treatment, the delays and the process are abominable!

    1. Noble J Atkins Jr.    

      I am a little confused as to why the 8 selected diseases changed from 12/17/2015 to 09/09/2016. see the
      difference in these two different lists:
      September 9, 2016: The presumptive illnesses apply to active duty, reserve and National Guard members who served for no less than 30 days at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, and are diagnosed with the following conditions:
      4 adult leukemia
      8 aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
      6 bladder cancer
      1 kidney cancer
      2 liver cancer
      5 multiple myeloma
      3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
      7 Parkinson’s disease

      December 17, 2015: 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:
      1 Kidney Cancer
      2 Liver Cancer
      3 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
      4 Leukemia
      5 Multiple Myeloma
      6 Scleroderma
      7 Parkinson’s Disease
      8 Aplastic Anemia / Myelodysplastic Syndromes

      1. liz    

        I want to see SHOW US THE DATA!! I served there in 1970 and have other illness and am being denied because I did not present to Sick Call as a 19 year old E-3. I am SC for present day illnesses, but good luck getting VA doctors supporting that it maybe linked to Camp Lejeune. I shouldn’t have to try and convince anyone that my illness is connected, I was there, I am being treated now. Its presumptive. Add the whole list!!

  2. Ronnie L Brophy U.S.M.C.    

    I was stationed in Camp Lejeune in 1972 for 3 months. I have been denied benefits for the Bladder Cancer that I have and the Kidney Cancer. I have already lost my right kidney because of this. They say that because I smoked in 1974 not in 1972 that I am disqualified for benefits in this area. I think that it a shame that the VA would resort to refusing benefits to our veterans to profit for themselves at our expense.

  3. Francis P. DROHAN    

    I visit the Local VA Facility once a week with my AF Retired Daughter. Im 70 years old and diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma from Nam in 65!66.
    The VA has gone beyond the Promises and hoopla to treat me and make me Comfortable and put this in REMISSION. NOT A CURE.
    I TOTALLY SUPPORT THE VA EFFORTS and after not needing the VA for 55 yrs.
    THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE FOR US OLD GUYS.

    USMC 63-67.
    Vietnam 65-66.

  4. wilbert harfis    

    We have to defeat cancer! Talking helps,but results speak louder than discussion!

    Let’s get “her” done!

  5. James W. Keenan    

    For many who may qualify for benefits as a result of this proposal, time may be growing short. I think of my own position, I have Parkinson’s Disease ,and realize that life one in his mid seventies is precarious. I have filed for benefits for my condition nearly four years ago.and have the VA’s decision in dispute. I currently face about a two year wait for the hearing I have requested. My VA Claim # is (redacted). It is going to take a lot to convince me that the agencies’ avowed efforts to stand at the side of the Veteran hold water. If it is possible to take a look at my claim, ask yourself who is getting the benefit of the doubt.,

    Captain James W. Keenan USMCR
    3rd.BN. 2ndMar.@nd Mar.Div.
    CLNC 1963-1966

  6. Agent Spyder    

    They did the same with my brother who died from a “rare” bladder cancer exposed to agent orange. He earned the Bronze star in Nam. He died, then they approved it after I handed them 3 years of research and gathering a list of others that had the same “rare” bladder cancer stationed at the same place. They approved prostate cancer but not the bladder. It’s pretty stupid to think cancer is going to limit the organ it attacks after exposure. They tried to blame it on being around second hand smoke when he as a kid but if that were the case, the cancer would not be rare! Every kid when I was growing up had parents that smoked!

    When I was doing the research I asked the VA if they were keeping records on how many Vets were contracting the “rare” bladder cancer and they said they didn’t keep track! So how would they know it was rare?!

    I now have a “rare” agressive cancer and was stationed at Le Jeune but since my cancer is only an off-shoot of lung and lymph cancer, it is not on the list. They say it is too rare to be included but humans drinking 19 toxic dry cleaning chemicals for over a month is a rare occurrence too!

    It’s beyond me how the VA can continue to deny proper care to our Vets and who makes these decisions. I hear that is under investigation and the VA refuses to release this to Congress.

    So even if you are included, what good does it do? Your children and grandchildren get robbed of your life as much as you do. Some dumb ass goes through a McDonalds and spills coffee on her crotch and gets 3 million in damages yet the suffering Vets go through with cancer related to their sacrifices for their country gets free chemo and radiation? The financial loss of not being able to work and be productive affects everyone and the losses are staggering including our homes. Such a sad state of affairs.

  7. James a holloway    

    Was stationed at camp le june after boot camp for what was called at the time itr and motor transport school

  8. Frank    

    I was stationed at Camp Lejeune North Carolina during those periods of time they haven’t got me one nickel

  9. Louis J Jorge    

    Where do I fill out the request benefits forms?

  10. Don Mullis    

    This should be about ALL military bases with toxic contamination water and ground. Most of the EPA super fund list are military bases. Not only US bases but ALL military bases overseas too. This should be for ALL USMC, Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Gaurd. We ALL are paying the price some way or other for our time in the military. Let us not forget our Civilians who work side by side with us in the US and overseas. The Civilians do must the same type jobs as the military. They should be part of this also.

  11. frank lamonica    

    va start taking care of your veterans your taking to long to deside claims and your veterans are dying waiting for there claims to be desided was this your plan VA

  12. Renee Williams    

    I am included on the list but they keep denying my symptoms. Why do you need to have one of the diseases on the list? They know that you have been exposed so why not care for all that have been identified as been in at Camp Lejeune??

  13. Lcpl alex svidesskis    

    I was stationed there 90 to 93, should i be concerned?

  14. Sylvia Hastings    

    My husband served in the USNavy during VietNam 1963-1967. He was aboard the USSAgerholm and the ship was anchored within a mile of the land. There is supposed to be a Bill going through congress that would give my husband and many, many others soldiers like him the presumptive AgentOrange exposure due to the air they breathed, the water they bathed in, the water they cooked with, etc. My husband is now 76 and has been 100% disabled for 18 years. He is very sick with Type II diabetics, CHF, coronary artery disease, COPD, obstructive sleep apnea, lung cancer, and he had a serious mental breakdown in 2000 with the intent to commit suicide. How long are these veterans supposed to wait for Congress to move on these bills? He is getting very close to the end of his life with many, many complications due to all the illnesses from the Agent Orange exposure 45 years ago. Does Congress care that these veterans are dying waiting on their rightful VA benefits? There’s a way for them to show they care. And then there’s the way they do business now, day by day, accomplishing nothing for our veterans. My husband is going to die waiting for his veterans benefits that he should’ve received 13 years ago. Does Congress care? Actions speak louder than words, so I think not. Thank you for allowing me to speak my mind. Sylvia Hastings, wife of veteran, Frederic L Hastings.

  15. Charles E. Finnegan    

    I notice that the VA News Release dated 17 December, 2015 titled “VA Plans to Propose Expanded Disability Benefits Eligibility for Veterans Exposed to Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune” listed eight conditions, including SCLERODERMA, that Secretary McDonald intended to propose creation of a presumption connection.

    Now, this latest VA News Release of 9 September, 2016 makes no mention of scleroderma, but includes a new condition – bladder cancer. What caused scleroderma to be dropped? Does this change mean that that is less likely that any consideration given to scleroderma suffers who served at Camp Lejeune for the required period during the defined years of water contamination when it comes to disability claims?

    How do i officially comment?

  16. Leon hicks    

    I was stationed at Camp Lejeune 96-00 is there no links to my time period to this contamination.

  17. Borden Fleetwood    

    I think, more importantly, where is the research? Plenty of vets go into healthcare fields after service. We can interpret data for vets with non-medical specializations.

    They want to show us that they’re doing something? Fine. SHOW US. THE DATA. What caused proposal of one disease over another? What constitutes a “rare” condition in veterans, as oposed to non-vets? Are there case studies assisting in determining how quickly exposure-related diseases can develop? If not, where are the research proposals, and who have they submitted them to?

    We’re not stupid, and there is no valid reason to withhold these reports from those most affected.

    1. liz    

      I AGREE!! I signed a petition about Veteran Suicide and there was an opportunity to start a new petition at Change.org, I think Borden F if you start the petition many will sign and that will gain some public/media exposure. This Comments section does absolutely NOTHING! We Veterans read them, but VA Secretary Bob McDonald has made his decisions and doesn’t care about us, its all about making himself look good to Congress and asking for more Money and Spending it in the most Blatantly corrupted ways at the VA Health Care Systems. The Most recent: NO OPIATES FOR VETERANS.
      This SHOW US THE DATA needs to get on 60 Minutes! We just need enough people screaming about it!

  18. ernest williams    

    my wife has parkinson,s disease and was with me atcamp lejeune in1968 and 1969 will dependents be covered.

  19. Robert Cascadden    

    Some of you guys are off your nut.
    The VA doesn’t just pay you(“I was stationed at Camp Lejeune North Carolina during those periods of time they haven’t got me one nickel”).
    Some of you are trying to complain because you showed up a decade after the problem was fixed(“I was stationed at Camp Lejeune 96-00 is there no links to my time period to this contamination”).
    Some of you are complaining about Agent Orange. This is about the problems associated with the poisoned water at Camp LeJeune.

    Here’s how it works. Were you stationed at Camp LeJeune during the specified time period? Yes? You are covered. No? You are not. See how simple that was? I have no current issues(stationed at CL from 82-85 and 86-91). The VA has already told me I am covered. All you have to show is that you were stationed there. You need not have ever gone to sick call(“…am being denied because I did not present to Sick Call as a 19 year old E-3”).

    BTW…Being stationed there doesn’t mean you rolled through on your way to somewhere else. It means you had PCS orders planting your happy ass on the Base.

  20. Angel babcock (wilson)    

    What about the children that were there at that time. Will they help them too?

  21. Richard Rajnowski    

    I was at Lejeune for 19 months so far nothing has showed up. I already have a 80% from agent orange and the VA has be.e.n great on that front.

  22. Laura Britton    

    I am a veteran as well and I know several folks that work at the VA in my state. Having talked with them about their work I have to say there are several issues with their processes as my claim has been denied too and I’m still fighting the battle. But I do have to say if you have talked with the folks that actually review claims they are under extreme pressures and have to meet some pretty crazy deadlines for reviewing and rating claims. They have a minimum quota that must meet daily. I have also spoken and heard about several other vets that their claims are denied and/or take too long for review and/or appeal and I think the issue isn’t that the folks doing the reviewing are just lollygagging around and don’t care. I honestly believe that there aren’t enough reviewers to handle the enormous amount of claims that come in. Let alone the fact that sometimes in the federal government there are way too many Bosses and not enough employees. If they had better management and real leaders at the VA offices in each state the reviewers could handle the workload because they wouldn’t have to constantly be shorthanded due to unhappy employees seeking employment elsewhere thus causing them to hire new employees and having to train them, which takes like 12 weeks. Instead you have a head of an agency that is so horrible he’s scared of his own employees going postal. As we all know if you’re not at the very least content with where you work you will not give it your all. Great leaders create a working environment for great employees and in turn increases productivity.

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