Photo: CBS News
Over 1 million marines and their families were exposed to “highly contaminated” drinking water at Camp Lejeune, N.C., but most have been unsuccessful when applying for disability payments, reports Mark Strassman of CBS.Fuel and chemicals seeped into the drinking water system at Camp Lejeune for 30 years before the wells were shut down in 1987.
Subsequent studies by the Navy, EPA and Congress found the waters to be “highly contaminated” with known carcinogens such as Benzene (which is also found in fracking fluids).
Strassman spoke with a former marine who was stationed at Camp Lejeune from 1977 to 1986 and successfully lobbied the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to designate his stage 4 kidney cancer as a service-related illness (and thereby provide his wife with $1,100 a month in survivor benefits).
However the VA has denied 75 per cent of these claims (with 1200 more cases pending), saying that “scientific and clinical evidence is not sufficient to establish a presumptive association between service at Camp Lejeune and any subsequent development of particular diseases.”
Retired U.S. Marine Jerry Ensminger has started a petition on Change.org to ask the VA to provide medical care for those who are living with illnesses related to their service at the base. More than 109,000 people — including many who have been affected by the water contamination — have signed it so far.
U.S. veterans are currently filing for disability benefits at a historic rate as 45 per cent of the 1.6 million veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related.
But much of the rise is due to advancements in battlefield care — more than 95 per cent of troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan have survived— and concussion diagnosis, while toxic exposure to chemicals is more difficult to prove (as the case of Camp Lejeune proves).
And the government has made it much harder by lying about things such as the toxic dust that showered New York City in the aftermath of 9/11 and the “burn pits” at large bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Last week Wired published a leaked memo that revealed how the U.S. government knew that burn pits (used for the disposal of garbage) would cause a higher risk of “adverse long term pulmonary or heart conditions” in troops but still chose to claim for years that “research has not shown any long-term health consequences due to burn pits.”
The first responders to 9/11 (and even the residents in lower Manhattan) are still suffering from the dissembling of the Bush Administration, and Wired notes that the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) has collected “hundreds” of incidences of vets who served near burn pits and subsequently developed respiratory problems.
You can watch Strassman’s report here:
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