USAToday carried news of a potential extension of the dates for Camp Lejeune veterans and their families to receive Veterans Administration care for their exposure to harmful contaminates at that North Carolina base.
Backed by scientific research and careful reasoning, this makes sense. What does not make sense is that the extension and, indeed, the entire Camp Lejeune actions, are at the recommendation of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and Dr. Richard Clapp, Professor Emeritus at Boston University's School of Public Health and the recognition of ATSDR and Clapp by the VA as the go-to authorities, able to persuade VA of the right course of action for Camp Lejeune.
The VA's recognition of these experts is appropriate, but what is bad is that these same experts have weighed in to support the exposure claims of C-123 veterans, only to be ignored by the Compensation Services and Public Health sections of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Totally ignored - as though their expert opinions hadn't even been offered. Veterans' claim denials, supported with expert opinions, are rejected by the VA without notice of the ATSDR findings.
Why? To save money, and to maintain the VA's pride in their long history of refusing medical care to all Agent Orange exposure victims until and unless directed to by Congress.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Tens of thousands more Marines and their relatives could be eligible for government health care for their illnesses now that a federal agency determined that the water at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune was contaminated four years earlier than previously thought.
In a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry said computer modeling shows that drinking water in the residential Hadnot Point area was unsafe for human consumption as far back as 1953. President Barack Obama signed a law last year granting health care and screening to Marines and their dependents on the base between 1957 and 1987.
"This is yet another piece of the puzzle that's coming together and slowly exposing the extent of the contamination at Camp Lejeune — and the Marine Corps' culpability and negligence," said Mike Partain, a Marine's son who was born at the southeast North Carolina base and who says he is one of at least 82 men diagnosed with breast cancer. "This is four years overdue."
The Marines were slow to react after groundwater sampling first showed contamination on the base in the early 1980s. Some drinking water wells were closed in 1984 and 1985, after further testing confirmed contamination from leaking fuel tanks and an off-base dry cleaner.