Unfortunately some marine Veterans were exposed to toxic chemicals at their own home marine base outside the scope of service. There has been an ongoing struggle to get Veteran Benefits based on exposure to toxic chemicals at Camp Lejeune. Recently was able to catch the documentary “Semper Fi-Always Faithful“, a film that highlights the struggles of those stationed at Camp Lejeune from 1957-1987 and exposed to highly toxic water. The documentary is being considered for an Oscar, and focuses on Partain and Jerome “Jerry” Ensminger, who are credited with fortuitously uncovering the evidence that documents the amount of fuel that leaked into the water supply at Lejeune. The amount of toxin was many times greater than originally acknowledged by the Marines. Fuels containing benzene, a known carcinogen, leached into groundwater and drinking wells. Marine authorities claimed they were not made aware of the problem until the 1980s, and were skeptical that they had any duty to give notice to all Marines stationed there during this time period. There is hope that pending legislation would take care of these exposed Veterans, but it is still stalled in various committees. Many of the Marines and their families that were stationed here subsequently developed chronic and often fatal ailments such as various cancers and leukeumia.
Unfortunately, the government and the VA has yet to take responsibility through either compensation or medical care to exposed Veterans and their families. The Daily News of Jacksonville, NC reported that there are 1,052 completed VA claims related to this water contamination, but 794 claims have been denied with 1,266 pending claims. Apparently, there are studies that the VA has been monitoring (being conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry), which is studying and monitoring the aftereffects of this exposure. Results from the study should be known in the next few years. VA Secretary Shinseki is on record stating that to provide VA healthcare to these exposed Veterans would be “premature” at this point, deferring policy decisions on whether to support exposed Veterans until there is more scientific evidence. Other congressman including Senator Richard Burr disagree on this point, and believe there is presently sufficient evidence that links the contamination to the cancers and other disabilities that many Veterans suffered from as a result of exposure.