02.03.11

Burr Bill Would Provide Care for Lejeune Vets, Family Members Exposed to Contaminated Water

Today, Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, introduced his first bill of the 112th Congress, the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act. This legislation, which he also introduced in the 111th Congress, would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide health care toveterans and their family members who have experienced adverse health effects as a result of exposure to well-water contaminated by human carcinogens at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

"We now have another shot at doing the right thing for the thousands of Navy and Marine veterans and their families who were harmed during their service to our country," Senator Burr said. "While we continue to seek more answers, we can minimize further suffering by allowing Lejeune veterans and their families to receive the care they need and deserve."

An estimated 750,000 people may have been exposed to probable and known human carcinogens in the base's water supply between the 1950s and 1980s. To date, this is the largest recorded environmental incident on a domestic Department of Defense installation. Last month, VA took the rare and significant step of consolidating adjudication for all pending and future disability claims from Lejeune veterans at one Regional Office and issued specific guidance to its field staff on the history of the contamination at the base and the health effects from exposure to the chemicals.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry is conducting scientific studies to further understand the extent of human exposure on Camp Lejeune and planning human health surveys to determine the frequency of certain illnesses among former Camp Lejeune residents.

Senator Burr's bill would provide targeted health care at VA facilities for veterans and military family members who were stationed at Camp Lejeune and have a number of illnesses and cancers related to exposure to the chemicals known to have been in the base drinking water.