It’s been a long time coming, but finally a major breakthrough for our nation’s veterans, former reservists and former National Guard members who were stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and exposed to tainted drinking water.
The Obama administration has agreed to provide these military veterans with disability benefits, according to an official announcement made to the public on Thursday.
Those who served for at least 30 days at Camp Lejeune’s marine base from 1953 to 1987 and have been diagnosed with one of eight diseases are eligible.
The Dept. of Veterans Affairs would be making these payments to those veterans starting in March. The Associated Press reports that up to 900,000 service members could have been affected by the tainted water at the famous marine base. The cost to taxpayers of the added VA benefits has been estimated at $2.2 billion over five years.
The diseases and conditions listed by the document’s Federal Register include adult leukemia, aplastic anemia, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Parkinson’s disease.
The National Research Council stated that contaminants in the water supply were found to have three major routes of exposure: through inhalation, skin contact and ingestion. Some of these toxic chemical compounds featured trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene, benzene and vinyl chloride.
Florida Congressman Gus Bilirakis had authored the Camp Lejeune Reservist Parity Act to require the VA to expand benefits to reservists who served at Camp Lejeune (not only active-duty personnel). Bilirakis serves as Vice Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
Biliarkis, like many in our country strongly believe, says it was the right thing to do for the men and women who had served at Camp Lejeune. Veterans sacrifice so much for the country and deserve better access to well-earned benefits, Bilirakis added.