By: Susan Paczak
The VA will now granted disability compensation benefits to veterans who served at Camp Lejune for any length of time between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 if they have developed certain diseases. The diseases the VA now recognizes are:
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Aplastic anemia/Myleodysplastic syndromes
This means that if a Veteran who served at Camp Lejune between 1953 and 1987 develops one of these diseases and applies for benefits the VA will automatically recognize the disease as service-connected and grant disability compensation benefits. The VA will pay benefits not only for those on active duty, but also for veterans who were assigned to Camp Lejune while in the Reserves or National Guard.
Although the VA has not put out the necessary regulations to cover these diseases, a veteran who served at Camp Lejune during the time of the water contamination should apply for benefits immediately. The VA will hold the claim and grant benefits as soon as the regulations are finished. As the date benefits become payable depends on the date the veteran applied for benefits, the veteran should apply immediately. If a Camp Lejune veteran died from one of the listed diseases, his widow/er should file a claim for benefits immediately.
The VA may add other diseases to the list after more research is done. If the veteran has a disease s/he thinks was caused by the water at Camp Lejune, the veteran should file a claim immediately. Even if the claim is denied, if the disease is added to the list later on, the VA will most likely grant benefits back to the date of the original application. Also, the veteran can still prove that a disease not on the list is related to the chemicals in the water, if there is medical evidence from a doctor to support the claim.