12.17.15

Burr and Tillis Applaud Dept. of Veterans Affairs Decision to Finally Grant Disability Status to Camp Lejeune Veterans

WASHINGTON – Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) made the following statements on today’s U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announcement that victims of Camp Lejeune’s poisoned water who are diagnosed with one of eight illnesses will be granted disability status: 

“The VA has conceded that it will no longer deny disability benefits to Camp Lejeune victims based on ridiculous scientific claims,” said Sen. Burr. “This is victory for those who have long suffered as a result of the toxic exposure to chemicals while serving our country at Camp Lejeune. In 2012, the President signed my legislation into law that provided health care to veterans and their families who were poisoned at Camp Lejeune and I will continue to advocate for them. I thank Jerry Ensminger for his unending support of Lejeune victims. God bless all of these men and women.”

“The VA is finally granting some justice to veterans who were exposed to contaminated drinking water while assigned to Camp Lejeune,” said Sen. Tillis. “The victims of this tragedy have waited far too long to receive disability benefits, and I thank Jerry Ensminger, Senator Burr, and the entire Camp Lejeune Community Assistance Panel for their tireless efforts in advocating on behalf of the victims and keeping pressure on the VA to do the right thing.”

The eight illnesses are as follows:

  • Kidney Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Scleroderma
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Aplastic Anemia / Myelodysplastic Syndromes

In July 2015, after years of Congressional pressure, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that the VA would begin the process to grant presumptive disability status to veterans at Camp Lejeune who have certain cancers and conditions known to be associated with long term exposure to the chemicals that contaminated the base water system from 1953-1987.

In September 2015, both Senator Burr and Senator Tillis pressed the VA at a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on Camp Lejeune for answers about granting Lejeune veterans disability status. Bureaucratic red tape and internal resistance at the VA delayed a final decision for years. 

In August of 2012, President Obama signed the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 bill into law. This legislation, introduced by Senator Burr, requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide health care to veterans and their family members who have certain diseases and conditions as a result of exposure to well-water contaminated by human carcinogens at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.