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Camp Lejeune Vets offered fresh hope

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FILE - This March 19, 2013 photo shows the globe and anchor stand at the entrance to Camp Lejeune, N.C. (AP Photo/Allen Breed, File)

By Freddy Groves

If you served at Camp Lejeune and were made ill by the toxic drinking water, there is more hope being offered.

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald wants to classify certain illnesses as presumptive for service connection after seeing more reviews by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

It determined that numerous petroleum products, vinyl chloride, benzene, perchloroethylene (dry cleaning fluid) and trichloroethylene (a degreaser) leaked from storage tanks from 1953 to 1987 and contaminated the drinking water.

Per a VA news release, McDonald wants to create a list of presumptives for: kidney cancer, liver cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, scleroderma, Parkinson’s disease and aplastic anemia/myelodysplastic syndromes.

Reserve and National Guard personnel also would qualify for disability compensation and medical care, as well as dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving dependents. If you served at Lejeune during the specified period (Aug. 1, 1953 to Dec. 31, 1987) and have any of the illnesses listed, you’re encouraged to apply for disability compensation.

Under current rules, if you served at Lejeune for more than 30 days from Jan. 1, 1957 to Dec. 31, 1987, you may be eligible to receive care (and family members may receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical care) for esophageal cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, multiple myeloma, renal toxicity, female infertility, scleroderma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lung cancer, bladder cancer, leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, hepatic steatosis, miscarriage and neurobehavioral effects. (Note the different time span for these currently covered illnesses.)

For information on family care, go to clfamilymembers.fsc.va.gov. The link in the VA newsletter doesn’t work, but for veteran care go to index.va.gov and put Camp Lejeune in the search box. To establish eligibility for benefits, call 1-877-222-8387, or 1010ez.med.va.gov.

Note: Some of us have apparently mispronounced the Camp’s name our whole lives. It’s “luh-JERN.”

(c) 2015 King Features Synd., Inc.