Veteran Health Care in the Camp Lejeune Water Crisis: A Tale of Suffering and Neglect

Marine Lance Corporal Michael Smith arrived at Camp Lejeune in 1953 overcome with patriotism to make a difference. Unbeknownst to him, a silent enemy lurked beneath the surface of the seemingly picturesque base: contaminated water laced with trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and benzene, remnants of industrial solvents from nearby factories.

The Camp Lejeune water supply was polluted with these toxins through negligence by industrial sites and an off-base dry cleaner between 1953 and 1987.

The contaminated water affected around one million people, including a big proportion of military personnel and their families. This article seeks to inform veterans and their affected families about the possible health risks due to the toxic water, and also provide some legal assistance in the wake of the crisis.

Unmasking the Health Risks of Camp Lejeune’s Poisoned Water

The memories of service, for countless veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune, are associated with a darker truth: the insidious poisoning lurking beneath the familiar ground. For many, even after fifty years or so, the repercussions of the toxic exposure are still being felt.

For the thousands of families stationed there, the water left them grappling with chronic illness, a shattered sense of security,  and medical bills that are still burning holes in their pockets.

In many cases, veterans have been diagnosed with complications related to the thyroid. For many, this has resulted in hypothyroidism. Moreover, prolonged exposure has also been linked to weakened immune system response, leaving individuals vulnerable to infections and autoimmune diseases like ulcerative colitis.

The toxic water has resulted in fertility issues, pregnancy complications, and even birth defects in the offspring. For children exposed prenatally or early in life, the complications have been life-long. In many cases, the growing child has shown grave signs of learning difficulties, behavioral problems, and even decreased IQ scores. 

Each condition represents a battle fought, a dream deferred, and a future darkened by the legacy of negligence.

The Grim Tale of Negligence and Complacency

In 2017, the Veterans Affairs recognized eight presumptive health conditions linked to Camp Lejeune’s poisoned water. Veterans grappling with any of these illnesses are allowed to access disability benefits bypassing the regular governmental paperwork.

These 8 conditions are as follows:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia (also,  myelodysplastic syndromes)
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma

However, this is not a final list. Veterans who contracted illnesses other than these eight still stand a legitimate chance to apply for disability benefits. They need to prove that the causal factor for their condition is the contaminated water.

But, a stark picture emerged from an analysis published by the Marine Corps Times, of over 57,000 Camp Lejeune claims handled by the VA between 2017 and 2021.

The analysis highlighted a troubling truth: claims outside the designated eight conditions often met outright dismissal, with minimal to no effort to delve deeper into veterans’ underlying health conditions.

In the past decade, more than one-third of disability claims, associated with water contamination issues at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, were wrongly processed by Veterans Affairs processors.

This mishandling might have robbed up to 21,000 veterans of their deserved benefits. One of the major reasons that stalled benefits was a premature denial of claims. The people on duty rejected the compensation claims outright without any demand for additional evidence about injury and exposure to tainted waters.

But, all is not lost. For many affected, the Camp Lejeune contaminated water lawsuit has been the guiding light. According to TorHoerman Law, there have been over 150,000 administrative claims and 1,500 lawsuits filed in North Carolina!

Moreover, there are government provisions regarding cost-free health care too. Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between 1953, and 1987, are eligible for comprehensive healthcare under the 2012 Camp Lejeune healthcare law.

The law covers a wide range of health conditions potentially linked to contaminated water, including various cancers (esophageal, breast, kidney, bladder, and leukemia), infertility, miscarriage, scleroderma, and Parkinson’s disease. This list is not exhaustive, and veterans experiencing any unexplained illness are encouraged to seek medical evaluation.

Amidst the ongoing struggles faced by Camp Lejeune veterans, it is crucial to highlight resources that can aid in their pursuit of justice and compensation. As affected individuals navigate the complex legal landscape, organizations such as the Camp Lejeune Justice Coalition and the National PFAS Network play a pivotal role in providing support and guidance. Recognizing the significance of legal avenues, the Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act and the Federal Tort Claims Act offer potential pathways for seeking recourse.

It’s essential for veterans to leverage these resources and alliances, ensuring they are well-informed and supported on their journey towards resolution. For those facing health challenges linked to the contaminated water, the comprehensive healthcare provisions under the 2012 Camp Lejeune healthcare law serve as a lifeline. As veterans confront adversity, the collective efforts of these organizations and legal frameworks can illuminate the path towards justice and healing. To explore legal options and resources further, “Winstrol Selections on Offer:” for additional insights and support.

Legal Options and Resources

The Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act stands tall as a beacon of hope for those who served between 1953 and 1987. This pivotal legislation introduced a presumption of service connection for eight health conditions, effectively transferring the burden of proof from veterans to the government.

Nevertheless, maneuvering through the complex legal landscape can be quite daunting. Organizations like the Camp Lejeune Justice Coalition and the National PFAS Network can provide invaluable support in your endeavor. These groups extend legal aid, guide individuals through the claims process, and offer much-needed emotional support.

In a broader legal context, you can also resort to Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). This federal law plays a pivotal role in providing compensation to individuals who have endured personal injury or unlawful death resulting from the negligent conduct of a federal employee.

In such cases, the United States assumes the role of the defendant and bears the resulting liability. Seeking recourse under the FTCA involves initiating a lawsuit in federal court, providing a pathway for victims to address grievances and seek due compensation.


In the face of adversity, the spirit of resilience shines brightest. From battling illness to fighting for your loved ones, the Camp Lejeune community embodies unwavering strength.

Though the road ahead may be long and winding, your courage and determination will play a huge role in lighting the way toward a safe and just future. Remember, hope flickers even in the darkest corners.

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