The situation regarding the Vets who were stationed at or worked at Camp Lejeune is one that has become personal for me. A very dear friend of mine is one of those Veterans. For those of you that are not familiar with the issues regarding Camp Lejeune, a little bit of history is necessary.
The attached map shows the waterways, water treatment plants (Tawara Terrace and Hadnot Point specifically due to contamination levels studies), and the contaminated wells, which is the focal point of the health related problems facing those stationed at or working on the base and their families in housing surrounding the base.
From 1957 to 1985 Marines, and their families stationed here drank their morning coffee, cooked their meals, and bathed themselves and their children in water contaminated with TCE (trichloroethylene), PCE (perchloroethylene), and Benzene just to name a few well know human carcinogens. The contamination at Camp Lejeune has been called the worst toxic contamination in the history of the United States public water systems and a betrayal of epic proportions by the Marine Corps for the lack of disclosure and length time the water was contaminated.
With little media attention given to the contamination, those who served at Camp Lejeune could have no idea that their health issues may be related to water contamination and for those that have found out that the water was contaminated, usually by accident or luck, even more red tape awaits them for filing claims. If they’re lucky they may learn that there is a registry they should join to be kept abreast of developments and information related to, or stemming from, the contamination and that their claim for disability, if applicable, should be filed directly through the VA if they are a patient at one. Then there is a tort claim (if applicable), Form SF-95which will need to be filed with the JAG office listed in the attached packet as well.
Today, like every day for the last week, I decided to the leg work that one looking to file a claim would go through, made those calls, consulted those attorneys, (all of whom claimed to specialize in Veterans Affairs Claims and one even listed the Camp Lejeune contamination on its website) and after a runaround of BIBLICAL proportion I came to the conclusion that the system we expect our veterans to navigate to find the information they need absolutely stinks and there are nowhere near enough VA Advocates to help. Time after time, organization after organization, I was referred to the JAG office (someone should give a medal to the poor soul who put up with my incessant calls with questions as to how this process should work and why I SHOULD NOT have wound up calling the JAG office; although all the agencies are giving out their phone number like free supermarket samples). The JAG office was very helpful in explaining the importance of the registry, the purpose of the VA for claims and what its Advocates should be able to assist Veterans with filing, and the information required for the Camp Lejeune Claims packet, but ultimately the claim for those who were enlisted had to be handled by the VA.
There is also a class action suit, but Im still in the process of locating information on how one would become a party to it, particularly if they were enlisted at the time. It is my hope that over the course of completing this story I will be able to assemble a single stop location for any Veterans looking for the information they need regarding their time at Camp Lejeune and how their health may have been affected and what they need to file a claim.
If you know anyone who was enlisted and stationed at Camp Lejeune during the time frame above, please forward this to them or their families and if you have any information you would like to share regarding sites that may not have been added to the blog yet or about the claims process, please comment the blog or email me and I will follow up and add it to the list.