Around 5,000 U.S. veterans live in Montgomery County who served at Camp Lejeune and area veteran service officials are asking those over the age of 53 to contact them as they could be entitled to money.
The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act funds relief for veterans who served at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina between the years 1953 and 1987 and suffer from a specific set of illnesses, Montgomery County Veteran Services Executive Director Kim Frisco said.
Veteran Affairs says during this time frame, there were chemicals in the drinking water that could have caused cancer and other health issues.
“Scientific and medical evidence has shown an association between exposure to these contaminants during military service and development of certain diseases later on,” the VA says on their website.
The diseases include adult leukemia, aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Parkinson’s disease, according to the VA.
The VA said that two on-base water wells were shut down in 1985 after chemicals including Trichloroethylene (TCE), Perchloroethylene (PCE), Benzene, Vinyl chloride and other compounds were found.
The Greene County Veteran Service Office has worked with veterans who served at Camp Lejeune and suffered from cancer, Parkinson’s disease and other health issues, said Executive Director Tim Espich.
“Imagine serving your country and doing everything involved with that and then having to deal with serious health issues,” Espich said.
He said the new Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows veterans to file a class action lawsuit against the federal government, but that may be impacted by any service-connected disability payments the veteran already received. He said it’s important for a veteran to look at all their options before making a decision.
Every veteran’s circumstances are different, Frisco said, and the sum of money that can be awarded can be affected by many different factors including the veteran’s disability rating with the VA.
“We want to encourage any veteran that served at Camp Lejeune to gather as much information as possible before choosing their path to compensation, whether that be with us or through a private attorney,” Frisco told the Dayton Daily News.
Frisco said her office has recovered more than $3.2 million in back payments and claims for veterans this year.
“We do that without ever charging a fee to the veteran or their family,” she said. “They keep 100% of their awarded compensation.”
Family members who lived on the base or at MCAS New River during the time period and suffered health issues could also receive compensation, the VA said. For the claim, a family member must provide a document showing their relationship to the veteran, a document showing that they lived at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River for at least 30 days and medical records that show they have one of 15 conditions.
The conditions include bladder cancer, breast cancer, esophageal cancer, female infertility, hepatic steatosis, kidney cancer, leukemia, Lung cancer, miscarriage, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes, neurobehavioral effects, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, renal toxicity, scleroderma.
How to get help
Montgomery County Veteran Services: 937-225-4801
Greene County Veteran Services: 937-562-6020
Miami County Veteran Services: 937-440-8126
Preble County Veteran Services: 937-456-6111
Warren County Veteran Services: 513-695-2717