New Legislation Can Help Veterans Exposed to Toxic Water at Camp Lejeune Receive Compensation

Veterans may be eligible for compensation for drinking water contamination at Camp Lejeune

Marine Corps veterans may soon be able to pursue legal action for exposure to unsafe water at Camp Lejeune. On August 10, 2022, the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 was signed into law by President Biden. This act allows veterans to seek compensation for health conditions related to contaminated water exposure.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) records show evidence of water contamination at the base from 1953 to 1987. It’s estimated that nearly one million Camp Lejeune residents, workers and veterans may have been exposed to unsafe chemicals during that time.

New Act Allows Veterans to File for Additional Compensation

The act, also known as the Honoring Our PACT Act, had been back and forth between the House and Senate since early summer. Now, it has been signed into law by President Biden.

The act includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. This portion of the bill allows people who were exposed to contaminated water at the base to recover damages for related health issues. This includes people who worked, lived or were present on base.

Individuals who wish to file must meet a few criteria to be eligible for damages. They must have been:

  • Present at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987
  • Exposed to the contaminated water for 30 or more days
  • Diagnosed with a health condition related to exposure to the contaminants in Camp Lejeune’s water

For Camp Lejeune victims, there are about 40 conditions that may qualify for compensation.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 also outlines the Cost of War Toxic Exposures Fund. This fund is to be administered by the VA. Its purpose is to pay for health care and benefits associated with exposure to environmental hazards during military service. The fund will remain available for two years.

This bill expands the rights afforded to veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals at Camp Lejeune. Successful lawsuits can help veterans pay for treatment costs and provide for their families.

Individuals should speak with an experienced law firm to learn about Camp Lejeune water contamination claim options.

Other Healthcare and Compensation Options for Camp Lejeune Veterans

Previously, veterans exposed to the contaminated Camp Lejeune water were not able to file legal action. However, they were subject to a few government benefits.

The Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012

The Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 allows individuals to receive health care from VA-affiliated care centers, even if they did not have a toxic exposure-related health condition.

Eligible veterans must have served on active duty at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987. Family members who resided at Camp Lejeune for the same window may also be eligible for healthcare reimbursement.

Under the Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, veterans who experienced any of the following conditions are eligible for no-cost health care:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Female infertility
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Miscarriage
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Renal toxicity
  • Scleroderma

Monthly VA Benefits

Individuals who experienced health issues related to the toxic water may be eligible for VA benefits. Qualifying veterans, reservists and guardsmen may be eligible for these benefits. Eligible individuals must have served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 cumulative days from August 1953 – December 1987. They must also not have received a dishonorable discharge.

In addition, to qualify for monthly VA benefit payments, eligible parties must have a diagnosis of one or more of the following conditions:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease

Family members with these health conditions may also be eligible for monthly benefits.

The new Honoring Our PACT Act expands upon the benefits and compensation previously offered. Even individuals who have previously received VA benefits are eligible to file lawsuits for separate compensation.

History of Exposure to Toxins at Camp Lejeune

In 1980, scientists discovered the first evidence of drinking water contamination at Camp Lejeune. With further analysis, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) found contamination of the water had been ongoing for decades.

The contamination at Camp Lejeune was present in three on-base water supply wells. Although the contaminated supply wells were addressed in 1985, exposure was possible until the end of 1987. Contaminants found in Camp Lejeune water included:

  • Benzene
  • Perchloroethylene (PCE)
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)
  • Vinyl chloride
  • Other compounds

These chemicals are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Exposure to these chemicals may have resulted in the development of any of the conditions listed above.

Camp Lejeune Residential Areas Served by Contaminated Supply Wells

  • Barracks and most bachelor’s quarters
  • Berkeley Manor
  • Hadnot Point
  • Hospital Point
  • Knox Trailer Park
  • Midway Park
  • Paradise Point
  • Tarawa Terrace
  • Watkins Village

Asbestos Risk for Veterans

Toxic materials were often found in military bases countrywide. Asbestos, in particular, was frequently used in the construction of buildings on bases. VA benefits are available for asbestos-exposed veterans who develop related conditions, such as mesothelioma.

For veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma, VA benefits may total over $3,000 monthly. Family members may also be eligible for benefits. If you were exposed to asbestos or any other contaminant at a military base, speak with an experienced lawyer to discover your rights.