In 2012, the Camp LeJeune Families Act was passed to provide veterans and their families with compensation for any damages arising from exposure to contaminated drinking water at the affected military bases. Although this Act has provided a much-needed lifeline for those struggling with health conditions related to exposure, there are still distinct eligibility requirements that must be met before you can file a claim. There are loads of factors that you may qualify for a contamination claim. We have outlined the basic qualifying criteria below:
Individuals claiming benefits should generally have served or resided at a base affected by the water contamination (Camp LeJeune, MCAS New River, or MCAS Beaufort) for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987. These individuals are not entirely limited to military service members – spouses and dependents of service members who resided at the base are also eligible to receive compensation. Furthermore, the individual filing the claim must have a current health condition that is linked to the known contaminants found in the water. These toxic elements have since been identified as trichloroethylene, trichloroethylene, benzene, and vinyl chloride. Additionally, claimants must also be able to provide medical evidence to prove their medical condition was directly caused by their water exposure at Camp LeJeune.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has since made a list of 15 qualifying health conditions (which can be found on their website) – that they recognize as related to the contamination. A few of the common ones include several types of cancers, adult leukemia, miscarriages, birth defects, infertility, and Parkinson’s disease. If a claimant presents a condition that is not on the list, they can still receive benefits provided they demonstrate that the condition was caused by water contamination through qualified medical evidence.
Filing a Claim
It’s important to note that whereas evidence is not inherently compulsory, it is highly recommended that claimants provide proof of service or residence at a contaminated base, as well as medical evidence to support their claim. Doing so will save the VA office the trouble of having to verify your claim against internal sources and the Department of Defense (DoD), ultimately speeding up the approval process. Applications can be submitted online, by mail, or in person at the nearest VA Regional Office. Due to the frequent backlogs of claims, veterans and their families should be prepared to wait for weeks or even months before hearing a response. Despite the possible lengthy wait, successful applicants may receive an array of benefits, including a one-time lump sum payment, medical care, and disability compensation from the VA.
Generally, you should team up with a lawyer who is familiar with the Camp Lejeune water contamination claims process to ensure that you receive the full benefits for which you are eligible. Following the submission of your claim, it is also important that you regularly check the status of your application.
Over the past decade, countless veterans and their families have taken advantage of the Camp LeJeune Families Act to receive compensation for any damages resulting from exposure to contaminated drinking water. It is within their right that they seek justice for something that could have been prevented. Therefore, if you or a loved one are suspected victims, it is important to familiarize yourself with the qualifying criteria and engage the services of a lawyer to maximize the chance of receiving all the benefits you are entitled to.