The United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) identified eight associated diseases in a final rule that veterans, former reservists, and former National Guard members are presumed to have incurred or aggravated during service for the purposes of entitlement to VA benefits.
The presumption allows affected former reservists and National Guard members to gain veteran status for purposes of entitlement to VA benefits, and people should speak with a Wilmington personal injury attorney when they are suffering from any of these presumed illnesses.
The presumptive service connection established by the VA relates to service members exposed to water supply contamination at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
The VA states that veterans, reservists, and guardsmen can be eligible for disability benefits when they have a diagnosis for one of the eight associated diseases and served at Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 30 total days between August 1953 and December 1987, and they were not dishonorably discharged when they separated from the military.
Presumptive Camp Lejeune Conditions
Soldiers at Camp Lejeune and their families were subjected to a variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or toxic substances in their drinking water and bathing water between August 1953 and December 1987. The contamination was eventually uncovered in many wells across the base in 1982 after users first began using them almost one year prior.
An assessment by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) led to the VA releasing a report in 2017 that identified the eight presumptive conditions linked to Camp Lejeune water contamination. Contaminants included such VOCs as trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), vinyl chloride (VC), and benzene.
A presumptive service connection will mean that the VA formally acknowledges military service at Camp Lejeune during the qualifying years associated with the eight listed presumptive diseases. When you are filing for a disability claim, the VA will require you to submit medical records and other medical evidence that demonstrates your conditions are linked to your military service, but no additional documentation should be necessary.
What follows are the eight presumptive illnesses.
Leukemia is a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues, such as the bone marrow and the lymphatic system. With leukemia, your bone marrow will create aberrant white blood cells that push out the proper blood cells and make it impossible for your circulation to function properly.
Adult leukemia often stems from exposure to certain chemicals, and symptoms include fever or chills, persistent fatigue or weakness, frequent or severe infections, weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, an enlarged liver or spleen, easy bleeding or bruising, recurrent nosebleeds, tiny red spots on your skin, excessive sweating, and bone pain or tenderness.
Aplastic Anemia and Other Myelodysplastic Syndromes
Aplastic anemia is a rare but serious blood condition occurring when bone marrow is unable to make enough new blood cells for a body to work normally.
Treatments for aplastic anemia can include blood and bone marrow transplants, blood transfusions, medicines to stop the immune system from destroying the stem cells in your bone marrow, medicines to help your body make new blood cells, and removing or staying away from toxins in your environment.
Symptoms may include fatigue, shortness of breath, rapid or irregular heart rate, pale skin, frequent or prolonged infections, unexplained or easy bruising, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, prolonged bleeding from cuts, skin rash, dizziness, headaches, and fevers.
Bladder cancer is a disease that often begins when malignant cells form in the tissues or line inside the bladder and causes often include certain chemicals found in some environments. Even early-stage bladder cancers may return following successful treatment.
Symptoms of bladder cancer include frequent or painful urination, blood in your urine, and back pain.
Kidney cancer may develop in either of your two kidneys but more commonly affects the left kidney. The disease is serious because, when left untreated, kidney cancer may spread to other parts of the body and possibly be fatal.
Kidney cancer may be difficult to diagnose because it usually does not have signs or symptoms in its early stages. Over time, signs and symptoms can include blood in the urine, back or side pain that does not subside, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, tiredness, and fever.
Liver cancer begins in the cells of your liver, and the most common liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma, which often begins in the primary type of liver cell, the hepatocyte.
Signs and symptoms are again not common in the early stages of primary liver cancer, but the eventual symptoms can include weight loss, loss of appetite, upper abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, weakness and fatigue, abdominal swelling, yellow discoloration of your skin and the whites of your eyes, and white, chalky stools.
Multiple myeloma is a kind of cancer affecting the plasma cells in your body, leading to them growing out of control and crowding out healthy blood cells. There is no known cure for multiple myeloma, but certain treatments may help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
While symptoms are not apparent early on, they can eventually include bone pain, nausea, constipation, loss of appetite, mental fogginess or confusion, fatigue, frequent infections, weight loss, weakness or numbness in the legs, and excessive thirst.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a kind of cancer that begins in the lymphatic system, and white blood cells called lymphocytes grow abnormally to form growths or tumors throughout the body.
The signs and symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma include swollen lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or groin, abdominal pain or swelling, chest pain, coughing, trouble breathing, persistent fatigue, fever, night sweats, and unexplained weight loss.
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder causing unintended or uncontrollable movements, including shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination. The disease also affects your nervous system and other body parts controlled by the nerves.
Common symptoms include tremors, slowed movements, rigid muscles, poor posture or balance, loss of automatic movements, changes in speech, and difficulty writing.
Veterans can also be diagnosed with other health conditions or diseases and get access to VA health care, despite the conditions not being presumptively service-connected for disability benefits.
These conditions may include scleroderma, breast cancer (in males and females), lung cancer, esophageal cancer, neurobehavioral effects, renal toxicity damage to the kidneys, hepatic steatosis, female infertility, and miscarriages.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation With a Wilmington Personal Injury Attorney
Are you a service member who is suffering from any of the conditions listed here following service at Camp Lejeune? You will want to make sure you contact Horton & Mendez for assistance navigating the legal maze you will be facing and getting the help you need.
Our firm is dedicated to helping veterans get the care and treatment they desperately need for serious medical conditions resulting from service-related issues. You can call us at (910) 415-1088 or contact us online to set up a free consultation that will allow us to take a longer look at your case and outline all of your legal options.
Frequently Asked Questions About Camp Lejeune Presumptive Illnesses
What caused the water contamination at Camp Lejeune?
Several years before the construction of Camp Lejeune, TCE and PCE were the safety solvents used as cleaning chemicals. These chemicals, as well as other chemicals, have been found in the Camp Lejeune water and are believed to be the main contributors to contamination.
The three primary sources of contamination included solvents used at a nearby dry-cleaning company that were highly carcinogenic; TCE that was used to clean equipment; and leaky underground fuel storage tanks that leached TCE and PCE into the ground.
Is the water at Camp Lejeune now safe?
Camp Lejeune states on its website that drinking water at Camp Lejeune now meets all standards for government drinking water and is tested more often than required. You can also view Camp Lejeune’s annual water quality reports.
What was the Janey Ensminger Act?
The Janey Ensminger Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2012 and was named for the daughter of Marine Corps member Jerry Ensminger. The young girl died from leukemia when she was just nine years old. Her father later discovered that Janey presumably developed cancer after exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
The Janey Ensminger Act established a presumptive service connection for certain illnesses associated with Camp Lejeune water contamination, meaning that people did not have to prove that their conditions resulted from exposure to contaminants but only needed to show that they lived on the base during the contamination and developed a condition.
The Janey Ensminger Act applies to such conditions as bladder cancer, breast cancer, esophageal cancer, female infertility, hepatic steatosis, kidney cancer, leukemia, lung cancer, miscarriage, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndrome, neurobehavioral effects, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, renal toxicity, and scleroderma.