News Feature | October 10, 2014

Lejeune Victims Get Help From New Federal Rules

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

The federal Veterans Affairs Department has pushed ahead with two rules that will help military families afflicted by hardship as the result of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.

The effort comes after a Supreme Court ruling this year effectively shot down the possibility of filing lawsuits around such illnesses after state time limits had elapsed.

One of the new rules "will allow veterans’ family members who lived aboard Camp Lejeune to make claims for health issues that may have developed as a result of exposure to contaminated water on the installation decades ago," JDNews reported.

Under the second rule, "family members of veterans who lived aboard Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between Jan. 1, 1957, and Dec. 31, 1987, are eligible for a program that will cover out-of-pocket expenses for certain illnesses," the report said.

Dependents of those who lived on the base have been receiving healthcare since 2012. A law passed two years ago "provided health care for Marines and family members who had lived on the base near Jacksonville, N.C., from 1957 to 1987 and who had suffered from any of 15 illnesses named in the law, the Washington Post reported.

The illnesses in question included "cancer related to the lungs, bladder, breasts, kidneys and esophagus, as well as leukemia and problems involving female infertility," the report said.

The federal department provides a background on what happened at Camp Lejeune.

"In the early 1980s at the Marine Corps Base in Lejeune, NC, it was discovered that two on-base water-supply systems were contaminated with the volatile organic compounds trichloroethylene (TCE), a metal degreaser, and perchloroethylene (PCE), a dry cleaning agent. Benzene, vinyl chloride, and other compounds were also found to be contaminating the water-supply systems. The water systems were contaminated from August 1953 through December 1987," the department said.

There is "limited and suggestive evidence" of a link between certain diseases and the chemical compounds uncovered at Lejeune, according to the department.