20 July 2012

Sen. Burr's Leadership = Camp Lejeune Action!

Sen. Burr, Ranking Member Senate Veterans Committee
From Senator Burr (D-NC) announcement today.

Bill to Provide Care to Camp Lejeune Victims Passes the Senate

"I could not be happier to announce that the Senate has finally passed the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, a bill that will require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide health care to veterans and their family members who have are suffering from diseases and conditions as a result of exposure to toxic well-water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Those of you who are regular readers of this newsletter are already familiar with the back story of this issue.  For those of you who are not, here is some background: For 30 years, from 1957 to 1987, well-water on base at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with chemicals - such as TCE, Benzene, and Vinyl Chloride - that are known human carcinogens, meaning that exposure to them can cause cancer and other health conditions in humans.  To date, this is the largest recorded environmental incident on a domestic Department of Defense installation and the largest water contamination incident in American history.

Despite the fact that many of the Marines and families who lived on base at Camp Lejeune have become sick as a result of exposure to these chemicals, the Department of the Navy and the Marine Corps have continually denied responsibility for providing them with the care they need.  Since they have failed to take care of these people who are suffering serious illnesses through no fault of their own, it became clear that Congress would need to pass legislation requiring VA to provide these victims with the health care they need.  

Unfortunately, many people, including young children of these Marines, have died as a result of the toxic exposures and are not here with us to receive the care this bill will provide, but we now have the opportunity to do the right thing for the thousands of Navy and Marine veterans and their families who were harmed during their service to our country and are still fighting for their lives. This has been a long time coming, but I am encouraged that the House will pass this bill before the August recess and it will go to the President’s desk for his signature.  

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee released to the public thousands of documents from the Department of Defense related to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune.  Many of these documents were not previously available to the public.  After so many years of secrecy and cover-up surrounding this issue, this is a big step towards providing transparency and, hopefully, answers to those who so desperately deserve them. "

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