VA Establishes Presumption of Illnesses from Camp Lejeune Water Supply

During the early 1980s, volatile organic compounds, trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene, as well as benzene and vinyl chloride were discovered in two on-base water supply systems at Camp Lejeune. The contaminated wells supplying the water systems were shut down in February 1985.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs published regulations Jan. 13 to establish presumptions for the service connection of eight diseases associated with exposure to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune, N.C. The presumption of service connection applies to active duty, reserve, and National Guard members who served there for a minimum of 30 days (cumulative) between Aug. 1, 1953, and Dec. 31, 1987, and are diagnosed with any of these conditions:

  • adult leukemia
  • aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • bladder cancer
  • kidney cancer
  • liver cancer
  • multiple myeloma
  • non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Parkinson's disease

"We have a responsibility to take care of those who have served our Nation and have been exposed to harm as a result of that service," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald. "Establishing a presumption for service at Camp Lejeune will make it easier for those veterans to receive the care and benefits they earned."

Contamination in the base's water supply has been a concern for many years. The VA reported that environmental health experts in its Technical Workgroup conducted comprehensive reviews of scientific evidence, which included analysis and research done by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), EPA, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the National Toxicology Program, and the National Academies of Science, in deciding to establish the presumptions.

Veterans with 30 or more cumulative days of active duty service at Camp Lejeune during the contamination period are already eligible for certain medical benefits because of the passage of the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, according to the agency's announcement.

It says during the early 1980s, volatile organic compounds, trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene, as well as benzene and vinyl chloride were discovered in two on-base water supply systems at Camp Lejeune. The contaminated wells supplying the water systems were shut down in February 1985. The area included in these presumptions is all of Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River, including satellite camps and housing areas.

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