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VA Disability: Veteran Contaminated Groundwater Claim Denial

Legally reviewed by Brendan Garcia , Owner and Lead Attorney


Veterans who were exposed to contaminated groundwater at Camp Lejeune and have service-related impairments, as a result, can seek entitlement to service connection for those conditions and receive VA disability benefits. Although the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune gets the majority of the publicity, benefits are available for veterans with disabilities due to contaminated water exposure at any military base, including Camp Pendleton, Anniston Army Depot, and Fort McClellan. A VA-accredited veteran disability benefits attorney helps veterans to obtain the benefits they are owed due to a contaminated groundwater claim, even after they’ve been met with a denial.


Currently, benefits are available on a presumptive basis for veterans who were at Camp Lejeune during the exposure timeframes listed below. There are many other known groundwater contamination sites as well. There are three other well-known bases (Camp Pendelton, Anniston Army Depot, and Fort McClellan) with recognized contaminated water issues and many others that the EPA considers to be “Superfund” sites. Service at any of these bases may result in the ability to establish service connection for impacted veterans.

Camp Lejeune

Claimants who were present at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1953 to December 1987 who did not receive a dishonorable discharge when they separated from the military were exposed to contaminated water. This includes exposure to hazardous chemicals appearing in groundwater and drinking water such as benzene, which is a fuel component; vinyl chloride, which is formed from the breakdown of cleaning solvents; and the cleaning and greasing solvents, perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE). In addition to the presumptive conditions listed below, veterans should file a claim for any condition they feel is related to this exposure.

The presumptive conditions that VA automatically presumes are due to the exposure to contaminated water and entitle a veteran claimant eligible for benefits include:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Parkinson’s disease

Camp Pendleton

There was a groundwater well within proximity to a Superfund disposal facility that resulted in a high likelihood that military servicemembers and their families were exposed to a number of cancer-causing chemicals, including benzene, the pesticide DDT, lead, and more. The condition is believed to have existed for many years. If you served at Camp Pendleton, a VA disability lawyer could help you determine if benefits are available for you.

Fort McClellan

Based in Anniston, Alabama, and commonly referred to as Fort Mac, Fort McClellan’s groundwater contained arsenic-bearing Agent Blue, as well as Agent Orange, mustard gas, and other types of gasses used in chemical warfare. Although VA does not recognize any conditions as presumptive to this exposure, veterans should file a claim and seek entitlement to service connection at this time.

Anniston Army Depot

The Anniston Army Depot, in Bynum, Alabama, was used to store military ammunition, fuel, and other potentially toxic substances such as Agent Blue, Agent Orange, and VX nerve gas.


Disability benefits for contaminated groundwater claims can be obtained by filing a claim directly with the VA or by having the assistance of a representative or VA disability lawyer. In order to obtain benefits, you must be able to show proof of your time spent at Camp Lejeune as well as medical records showing a medical diagnosis for any condition that you want to claim. If the condition is not listed as a presumptive condition, you may also need to submit a medical nexus or proof of a connection between the contamination and your current disability.


When can I seek benefits for contaminated groundwater at one of the other military bases listed here?

Right now! You should file a claim for benefits if you haven’t already. You can’t lock in a potential effective date until you file a claim, so it’s better to do that now, even if you don’t have all the evidence you need to prove service connection. Even if you can’t prove a connection to service now, there is a good possibility in the future that the VA will include additional military bases on the list of presumptive exposures to contaminated water just as they have for Camp Lejeune. When that happens and that information is released, we will certainly provide the information as well as provide assistance for our clients in filing a Supplemental Claim or an appeal as appropriate.

Are benefits available for my family members?

In some cases, yes. As of now, only certain medical care is covered. However, pending legislation may open the doors for family members to file claims against the government based on exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.

I tried to file a claim and was denied. What should I do now?

Speak with an experienced VA-accredited disability denial attorney who can assist you in reviewing your case and appealing the VA’s decision. Claims involving groundwater contamination at other bases besides Camp Lejeune are frequently denied simply because there is no list of presumptive conditions or types of documents that will help you prove eligibility. However, a VA disability attorney can work with you on developing your case further and establishing entitlement to service connection with VA.


A Veteran Disability Lawyer’s role is to assist you throughout the confusing and often frustrating claim appeals process if you have received a denial of benefits, and assist you with establishing service connection for your contaminated groundwater claim, along with any other disabilities you may wish to appeal. Generally, you need to be denied at least once before an attorney can assist, but once a lawyer is involved they will often be able to quickly determine what needs to be done in order to prove entitlement to VA compensation.

If your veteran disability claim for contaminated groundwater has received a denial, be sure to contact the VA Accredited Attorneys at VetLaw right away to help make sure you get the entitlement you deserve.