Project on Government Oversight
Lawmakers Urge President Obama to Help Camp Lejeune Veterans without Delay
By Suzanne Dewschowitz
The Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Veterans' Affairs Committees in both the Senate and the House have sent a letter to President Obama asking him to provide health care services for Camp Lejeune veterans right away. The message from Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) and Representatives Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Bob Filner (D-CA) expresses a real sense of urgency, and POGO agrees that sick veterans exposed to contaminated drinking water at Lejeune should not have to wait one more day for the government to provide them with adequate healthcare.
The letter, dated April 20, aims to help those who need it immediately in the face of our less-than-speedy legislative process. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has existing resources which could be reserved for just this purpose without derailing other initiatives. According to Air Force Times, in February Rep. Miller proposed that the VA create a special healthcare category covering Lejeune veterans. “The cost of care could be paid, Miller suggested, by $5 billion in excess health care funds the VA discovered when preparing the 2013 budget.” The Senators and Representatives who signed onto this letter are asking President Obama to identify a portion of those appropriated funds (or other funds which can be repurposed) to be set aside for sick Camp Lejeune veterans and their families.
The signatories vocally disagree with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s suggestion that policy decisions affecting those exposed to the contaminated water are “premature.” Shinseki has urged decision-makers to postpone a decision until more scientific evidence is revealed linking water contamination at Lejeune to illness, referring to scientific studies that will be released over the next two years. The Chairs and Ranking Members point to already existing scientific evidence that warrants helping those who need it without delay. Sen. Burr’s press release pointed out that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has already acknowledged that trichloroethylene (TCE), a chemical which contaminated the water supply system at Lejeune, is directly linked to cancer.
Read the full article here: http://bit.ly/ICUhe2
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