Chris Attig is not only the founder of the Attig Law Firm, PLLC, but he is also a Veteran.
Camp Lejeune is a U.S. Marine Corps base in North Carolina, and has been a crucial component of USMC training activities since 1942. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has concluded that from (at least) November 1957 to February 1987, soldiers and their families living on-base at Camp Lejeune were exposed to contaminated drinking water.
Soldiers – and their families – that were stationed at Camp Lejeune are finding that they are getting sick at rates far higher than any national rates in the general population.
What Happened at Camp Lejeune?
The water at Lejeune is known to have toxic concentrations in excess of 240 – 3400 times what the government considers a safe level. The following chemicals are known to have been used at Lejeune, with more and more discovered each year (the list now totals over 70 known toxins in the drinking water at Lejeune):
- Tricholorethylene (TCE)
- Perchloroethylene (PCE)
- Vinyl Chloride
The health impacts of this are staggering: a statistically significant number of men stationed at Lejeune have developed breast cancer at rates that far outpace the national rate of breast cancer in men. Birth defects in children have also resulted, including myoletic leukemia, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and other forms of cancer rare to children.
What Benefits are Available to Veterans and their family members that were stationed at Camp Lejeune?
If you are a United States Veteran, and have one of the 15 conditions listed in the table below, and served at Camp Lejeune from 1957-1987, there may be a connection between your military service and your current conditions.
As of September 2010, only approximately 200 Veterans had claimed service-connection for their exposure to the toxic filth at Lejeune (of those, only 20 had been granted service-connection). Millions of veterans and their families and their children have been exposed to the foul and contaminated water at Lejeune.
As of yet, however, there is no legal presumption that connects these cancers or terminal illnesses and disabilities to the polluted and toxic water at Camp Lejeune. As of this writing, Veterans still need to prove service-connection directly, secondarily, or by aggravation.
The Honorable Brad Miller, (House of Representatives, North Carolina) has introduced the Janey Ensminger Act, legislation that would establish an assumption that if service members lived at Camp Lejeune from the mid-1950s through the mid-1980s, they will be presumed to have been exposed to the tainted water.
In Aug. 6, 2012, Congress passed a law that expanded eligibility for medical care for Veterans and family members who served on active duty or resided at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between Jan. 1, 1957 and Dec. 31, 1987, and who were diagnosed with one of these 15 health conditions:
The VA has published a proposed regulation Sept. 11, 2013, which discusses how we will improve health care to eligible Veterans. There is no timeline for implementation of the regulation, and it is open for comment until October 11, 2013.
What should a Veteran do if they believe their illness resulted from benzene in the water at Camp Lejeune?
Here are four (4) things you should do if you believe that your illness results from the drinking water at Camp Lejeune:
1. Sign your name on the Camp Lejeune Registry, so that you receive updates on the situation, the research, the legislation, medical treatment, etc.
2. Apply for Medical Care for your illness, if you believe it results from exposure to the Camp Lejeune drinking water. In some cases, you may be able to receive reimbursement for costs you paid out of pocket for treatment of certain conditions.
3. File a claim for VA Benefits, seeking service-connected disability compensation on a theory that the drinking water at Camp Lejeune is more likely than not related to your current medical disability. You should consider speaking with an attorney to see if there is any way that you can prove your claim for service connection on the following theories of service-connection: direct, secondary, and aggravation
4. Contact your Congressional Representatives, and ask them to propose and pass legislation that presumptively service connects the above 15 disabilities to exposure to the drinking water at Camp Lejeune.
Please feel free to contact an accredited VA Benefits Attorney at the Attig Law Firm if you have legal questions about your claim for service-connection of injuries related to the Camp Lejeune drinking water.
Chris was commissioned in the US Army in 1993, and left Active Duty in 1997 as a Field Artillery Captain. He received his Honorable Discharge from the Army Reserves in 2004.
Since, 2008, the Attig Law Firm has had a single purpose: To change the way Veteransexperience the VA Claims Process.
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