The PACT Act, legislation providing disability benefits to millions of veterans and their families, was signed into law by President Biden on August 10, 2022. The new law covers and expands healthcare benefits and resources available to military personnel affected by burn pits and other toxic exposures.
Per the Military Times:
Veterans from older generations would also see new support under the measure. It dramatically expands benefits for illnesses believed to be linked to burn pit smoke in Iraq and Afghanistan, Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam and proximity to other harmful military contaminants in varied service eras.
And the bill would codify recent changes in how VA approaches a host of military toxic exposure claims, lowering standards for proof and offering presumptive status for some rare illnesses believed linked to them.
The PACT Act also includes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, ending a decades-long struggle for servicemembers stationed at Camp Lejeune in particular, who have been barred from seeking justice for the injuries they suffered from exposure to contaminated water. When this Act first passed the House, Representative Greg Murphy stated:
When we send our men and women overseas, we make a promise to care for them when they come home. We failed our veterans when they were exposed to toxic drinking water at Camp Lejeune, and it is up to us to make it right. My bipartisan bill, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, eliminates burdensome red tape to ensure that those exposed to toxic chemicals, including servicemembers, Marine dependents, civil servants, and contractors, can receive their day in court. As the proud representative of more than 89,000 veterans, I am honored to lead the effort to make sure our Camp Lejeune community gets the care and benefits they’ve earned.
Read more about
What is non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?
One of the most common reported outcomes and injuries from Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water is non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), a type of cancer that begins in the lymphatic system. Per the Mayo Clinic:
In most instances, doctors don’t know what causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It begins when your body produces too many abnormal lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell.
Normally, lymphocytes go through a predictable life cycle. Old lymphocytes die, and your body creates new ones to replace them. In non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, your lymphocytes don’t die, and your body keeps creating new ones. This oversupply of lymphocytes crowds into your lymph nodes, causing them to swell.
The Mayo Clinic does note certain risk factors for this type of cancer, however, including:
- Certain medications that suppress the immune system
- Infection with certain bacteria or viruses
- Older age (60+)
- Certain chemicals, like pesticides
The chemical link is a crucial one, as the water supply at Camp Lejeune was indeed contaminated with chemicals and industrial solvents. The VA also acknowledges a presumptive connection between non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and “contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune from August 1, 1953 through December 31, 1987.”
What are the symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?
Cancer.org discusses the signs and symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which can develop silently for years:
|· “Enlarged lymph nodes |
· Weight loss
· Fatigue (feeling very tired)
· Swollen abdomen (belly)
|· Feeling full after only a small amount of food |
· Chest pain or pressure
· Shortness of breath or cough
· Severe or frequent infections
· Easy bruising or bleeding”
They also note secondary symptoms like night sweats and fever. NHL can present in the lymph nodes, the abdomen, the chest, the skin, and the brain.
What is the treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?
The Mayo Clinic lists a variety of treatments for NHL, but every patient’s treatment regimen depends the specifics of their condition. However, typical options include:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted drug therapy
- T-cell therapy
- Bone marrow transplants
According to Cancer.org, the average five-year survival rate for people with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is 73 percent.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Camp Lejeune
If you have developed NHL and spent at least 30 days at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987, you are eligible to file a claim in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Northern Carolina. This allows veterans, their families, and anyone exposed (including those in utero) to seek justice for the pain and suffering they have endured.
Along with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the VA also recognizes the following diseases and conditions associated with the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune:
|· Esophageal cancer |
· Bladder cancer
· Breast cancer
· Lung cancer
· Kidney cancer
· Adult leukemia
· Multiple myeloma
|· Myelodysplastic syndromes |
· Hepatic steatosis
· Renal toxicity
· Female infertility
· Miscarriage (exposure during pregnancy)
· Neurobehavioral effects
Can I file a legal claim if I developed cancer from Camp Lejeune?
Yes, with the passage of the PACT Act, you most likely can. To qualify, you must have:
- Had 30 days or more of residence, work, or exposure to Camp Lejeune water between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987 (including in utero)
- Developed a medical condition caused by exposure to contaminated water on base
In some cases, you may also be able to bring a wrongful claim on behalf of your deceased family member.
The attorneys at McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC can help with your Camp Lejeune non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma claim, working to secure your rightful medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We will be by your side through every step of the legal process to ensure every box is checked and every document is filled out properly. We understand you have waited a very long time for justice, and we don’t want you to wait any longer. Get in touch with us today.
Randy is the former President of the South Carolina Association for Justice. He has been certified by the American Board of Professional Liability as a specialist in Medical Malpractice Law which is recognized by the South Carolina Bar. Randy has also been awarded the distinction of being a “Super Lawyer” 10 times in the last decade. He has over 25 years of experience helping injured people fight back against corporations, hospitals and wrong-doers.
Read more about S. Randall Hood