Camp Lejeune is a Marine Corps base camp in Jackson, North Carolina. Since 1941, it has been the home of multiple commands, teaching our Marines how to effectively train in both water and on land. It was the third official Marine boot camp set up in the country, and it is the largest one as well. Between 1953 and 1987 nearly one million veterans, civilians and their family members were exposed to dangerous contaminated water while on the base.
According to a release from Camp Lejeune officials back in 2017:
In the 1980s, some of Camp Lejeune’s drinking water wells were found to be affected by unregulated industrial chemicals. We do not know if past exposure to these chemicals in Camp Lejeune’s drinking water caused adverse health effects in specific individuals…. We continue to work diligently to identify and notify individuals who, in the past, may have been exposed to the chemicals in drinking water.
At the time, the Washington Post reported that most people who have been affected by the poisoned wells on Camp Lejeune would have to file their own claims, without much help from the government at all. Worse, a quirk in North Carolina law left most victims without legal recourse back then.
The good news among the bad? Recently passed legislation in the United States House of Representatives (and currently waiting for approval in the United States Senate) may give victims another option. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act may provide much-needed relief to hundreds of thousands of those affected by the contaminated water at this military base.
First, a little background.
The ill effects of Camp Lejeune’s poisoned wells
The Post’s story – published in 2017 but still relevant today – focuses on Marine veteran Frank Waller, a 68-year-old veteran who developed leukemia years after being stationed at Camp Lejeune. He spent six weeks at the base. Mr. Waller has tried to make claims for help before with the VA, but every claim was denied.
Just about anyone who lived and worked at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, might tell the same story. Adult leukemia is one of many illnesses associated with exposure to Camp Lejeune’s poisoned water. The others include:
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Liver cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
There is evidence that other conditions, such as infertility and/or miscarriages, esophageal cancer, and scleroderma, among others, may also occur if a person was exposed for a period of time. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act only requires proof of exposure for 30 days or more.
With the recent House passage of Camp Lejeune Justice Act, however, victims may soon have the legal recourse they need and deserve. Passed through the United States House of Representatives on March 2, 2022, by a vote of 256-174, the bill aims to provide anyone exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune (including those in utero) to file a claim in North Carolina U.S. District Court for their injuries. Essentially, the Act eliminates the legal hurdles encountered by victims for decades, giving them the opportunity to seek the justice denied to them for so long.
Further, the legislation will provide a pool of funds for claimants, ensuring they secure fair and just compensation for the harm they have suffered from contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC proudly supports veterans throughout the country. If you served or resided at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina between 1953 and 1987 for at least 30 days, you may have a potential legal claim for your injuries and conditions. The attorneys at McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips want to help. When you fill out the client form, it ensures you receive updates on the Camp Lejeune Justice Act as it proceeds through the United States Senate, and registers you to have your claim filed if the Act passes.
You fought for your country – let us fight for you.