Access to clean and safe drinking water is essential to active-duty service, and no veteran expects to contract a serious illness from ingesting contaminated water on base. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to thousands of Marines and their families stationed at Camp Lejeune in the mid-to-late 20th century. More recent research shows that other military bases may have similar issues with contaminated water as well.
Exposure to unsafe water can lead to a variety of long-term health problems such as a heightened risk of kidney cancer, liver failure, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), among others. This can have a profound effect on the lives of former servicemembers, and they may not be able to care for themselves or their families as a result.
Fortunately, pursuing water contamination claims through the VA’s disability compensation program can bring essential financial support to disabled veterans. If you can connect your current medical condition to your active-duty service, you may be able to collect substantial benefits. VetLaw’s team of knowledgeable lawyers can help you prepare for an initial claim as well as assist you throughout the appeals process if your application is met with a denial from the VA.
The United States Marine Corps uses Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for amphibious assault training and as a deployment staging area. Founded in 1941, the base has been in continuous operation ever since.
Unfortunately, Marines and their families stationed there between 1953 and 1987 unknowingly ingested contaminated tap water, which led to a greater diagnosis rate of kidney cancer, liver disease, and ALS, as well as numerous other diseases. Testing revealed unsafe levels of over 70 chemicals in the tap water, all of which are hazardous to human health.
While the government eventually fixed the problem, thousands of people faced exposure. For this reason, the VA now accepts water contamination claims for disability compensation benefits.
Camp Lejeune is not the only place where members of the U.S. military may have faced exposure to contaminated water. Any veteran who can show that their current disability is related to ingesting hazardous water may qualify for benefits regardless of where the exposure took place.
However, a major part of this process entails proving that exposure occurred while on active duty. In some cases, this may involve gathering evidence of service in an area or on a base with known water hazards. A VA-accredited attorney can help you compile documentation that supports your water contamination claim for benefits.
In some cases, the VA may assume a service connection for certain disabling conditions related to contaminated water exposure. For example, a former servicemember who served at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 for at least 30 days may automatically qualify for disability compensation from the VA. Some of the qualifying conditions include:
However, even if your disability is not on the so-called presumptive list, it may still be connected to the ingestion of contaminated water. VetLaw’s team of compassionate attorneys can help strengthen a water contamination claim through the use of medical records and military service documents.
Military service exposes servicemembers to many hazards, both seen and unseen. Water contamination is an underestimated hazard associated with active duty service, as those who ingest toxic chemicals may suffer from a variety of disabling conditions such as cancer, neurological problems, and ALS.
Whether you automatically qualify or you need to produce other evidence connecting your condition to your time on active duty, VetLaw’s team of steadfast attorneys can help you prepare for water contamination claims. Schedule a consultation today to discover more about your options.