Following Pressure From Burr & Tillis, VA Grants Disability Benefits to Lejeune Veterans with Bladder Cancer

WASHINGTON – Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) today applauded VA Secretary Robert McDonald’s decision to add bladder cancer to the list of presumptive diseases. This afternoon, at a Community Assistance Panel (CAP) meeting at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in Atlanta, the VA announced the establishment of a presumption of service connection for veterans who suffer from bladder cancer as a result of the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune. This will allow those veterans suffering from bladder cancer to qualify for disability compensation.

The announcement comes after Senators Burr and Tillis applied pressure on the VA to presume disability status for veterans who developed bladder cancer after serving at Camp Lejeune. While the VA announced last year that it would presume disability status for veterans who had served at Camp Lejeune and were suffering from a list of eight diseases, bladder cancer, one of the most common health problems in affected veterans, was inexplicably omitted from the list. On March 9, 2016, Senators Burr and Tillis sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan urging him to not allow costs to be a deterrent in providing disability presumption for Lejeune veterans who developed bladder cancer.

“I’m glad the VA is stepping up to help the veterans who were negligently poisoned by the water at Camp Lejeune,” said Senator Burr. “The scientific link between bladder cancer and service at Camp Lejeune is clear. I had a lot of questions for the VA when bladder cancer was not included on the initial list of presumptive diseases. This is an important step in the right direction.”

“While there was no excuse for the VA to initially deny disability compensation for veterans who developed bladder cancer as a result of past toxic water contamination at Camp Lejeune, I’m grateful that the VA made the right decision in the end,” said Senator Tillis. “We have a debt of obligation to the veterans, family members, and other civilians who were poisoned at Camp Lejeune, and today’s announcement helps us provide hundreds of more veterans with the compensation they need and deserve.