Off The Record – Veterans’ Disability – Camp Lejeune
Dave: Hey, Janet, how are you doing?
Janet: Hey, Dave, how’s it going?
Dave: It’s good. You know, I’ve been seeing all these commercials, like, for Camp Lejeune and the water contamination, and it’s been, like, blowing up my TV. And then a terrible, you know, with commercial after commercial. What’s going on? Is this, like, another burn pit scenario, where somebody’s realizing that something was done wrong, and now all of a sudden, everybody’s talking about it? Like, what’s going on?
Janet: Well, in all actuality, there was contamination over at Camp Lejeune. And also, actually, folks that were stationed at Marine Corps Air Station New River, they were also impacted by this. This is Marines, family members, possibly Navy personnel who were stationed in any of those two places any time between August of 1953 up through December of 1987. Any personnel that were in those two areas, if they were there for 30 days or more, it’s very possible that they were exposed to the contaminated water in Camp Lejeune. Drinking, bathing, all of that.
And it didn’t just impact military personnel. It also impacted some family members as well. What was in the water, they’re basically called volatile organic compounds. And there’s a few of them, but some of the real nasty ones were in the water in Camp Lejeune. These VOCs, as they’re called, they cause bladder cancer, kidney cancer, multiple types of cancer. They can cause birth defects. The VA has some conditions that are considered presumptive conditions for military personnel who were stationed there during that time. But this lawsuit thing that you’re describing, it’s really a class action lawsuit. And it’s very separate and apart from VA benefits. It’s really part of the Federal Tort Claims Act. So, now, a veteran could conceivably be receiving compensation through the VA for a condition that was caused by the toxins in the water at Camp Lejeune, but they also may be able to become a member of the class that’s suing.
Dave: Is the class action, and why we’re seeing so much of this is because it’s not just, you know, the difference between, like, the burn pits and other things that we’ve seen was affecting just the veterans, but now, like you said, it affects families and children, because it’s in areas that not just the veterans were using the water, it’s other family members. So, is that why we’re, you know, it’s bringing more of a spotlight on to this more so?
Janet: I think that may have something to do with it. But I also think that there are probably a lot of veterans out there that are pretty upset about the whole thing. Because some people would argue, well, you know, the government knew about it, yet they let it go on for as long as they did.
Dave: Right. Because you mentioned, like, through 1987. So, since 1987, it’s just that they knew about something was wrong then, and then they stopped, or, you know, what changed since, like, 1987?
Janet: Well, they cleaned it up a bit.
Dave: Oh, okay.
Janet: Yeah. I mean, I was stationed over in Camp Lejeune after 1987, so I didn’t make that cut-off, you know, which is kind of a good thing. You know, I see a lot of veterans coming in with conditions, presumptive conditions, related to the water in Camp Lejeune, and it’s not pretty, you know. What people need to understand, too, is that it doesn’t necessarily need to be a presumptive condition. There are certain presumptive things that are assumed, or conditions that are assumed to have come from the contamination in the water at Camp Lejeune. But there were also other conditions that conceivably could have come from there. Although not presumptive, it would still behoove veterans and their family members to get a claim in there.
Janet: You know, if you can show the connection, it can be made. I’ve gotten things connected that were not presumptives.
Dave: Right. So, the recommendation always is, like, just because you check a list, and you have a condition that’s not there, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still reach out, because that list, I imagine, has more people. That’s gonna be a moving list, where it could potentially grow to include more things. Similar to like other things that we’ve seen, like with 9/11, it started out with a few cancers, and then all of a sudden it just kept growing and growing, as more people, you know, didn’t just check the initial list. They looked at it and still were…so, they started getting more and more cases. So, you know, people that are sick, and, you know, which is, okay…
Janet: Exactly. And even if…it doesn’t have to be a presumptive to be service-connected either. It can be something outside of the box, and not a presumptive, but you could still get service connection for it. So, you know, I tell veterans, don’t be discouraged. Just because it’s not on the presumptive list, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get service connection for it, because you certainly can.
Dave: Right. It’s more about, like, what you said, that if you were there between those dates for more than 30 days, even if what your condition is, don’t assume. Or, you know, even if it’s not on the list, to definitely still to recheck…
Dave: Because that’s at least your right. Okay. Well, that’s good. All right. And yeah, so, no, there’s a lot of this going on. And the biggest thing is, you know, like you mentioned, you were there, you know, after 1987, luckily, at least with this. So, as you said, it was sort of hopefully maybe cleaned up, but the best thing is to know who’s directing you, and, you know, and being that you come and have that background to guide people that have questions, they should reach out. And how can they reach out to this firm and to get questions or answers, you know, that they would need from you?
Janet: Well, they can find us on our website, NYdisabilitylaw.com. And my email address is there. They can reach out to me via phone. I’ll answer any questions that they might have. If it’s not something that I deal with specifically, I can certainly try to get them on the right track.
Dave: Get them answers. Perfect.
Dave: All right. Well, thank you very much, Janet, for clearing that up. Thank you.
Janet: Thank you.