LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A group of veterans say they're fed up!
They're concerned about how the VA is handling illnesses associated with contaminated drinking water at a North Carolina military base.
They stood with their signs, waiting for honks and waves of passersby.
"From 1953-1987, Camp Lejeune was the worst water contamination in us history," said Daniel Bailey, a veteran from Alabama.
The VA publishes on their website that from 1950-1980, people in the base could have been exposed to drinking water with industrial solvents, benzene and other chemicals.
Bailey and another veteran protesting today, Brian Amburgey both spent 90 days there in training. They said their stays weren't long, but they were enough time to feel the effects of the contaminated water later in their lives.
"I was diagnosed with a brain tumor," Bailey said.
"I have short memory loss, long memory loss, a lot of white blood cell issues, sores in my head, and dizziness," Amburgey said.
In 2012, President Barack Obama signed the Janey Ensminger Act, providing health care benefits to veterans and their families suffering from illnesses related to the polluted drinking water. But this group says over and over, their claims related to illnesses are denied.
"Deny, delay, til they die," Amburgey said about the VA's attitude towards his problems. "They deny that we were there, they delay everything they try to do for us, and they wait for us to die so we go away."'
The group says they're going to continue raising awareness by protesting at VA Centers across the country.
We reached out to VA and got this response from Anita Vincent:
VA has already established presumptive disability benefits for Camp Lejeune Veterans for the following eight conditions: Adult leukemia, aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Parkinson’s disease.
VA has already established automatic health care benefits for Camp Lejeune Veterans and family members for the following 15 conditions: Bladder cancer, breast cancer, esophageal cancer, female infertility, hepatic steatosis, kidney cancer, leukemia, lung cancer, miscarriage, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes, neurobehavioral effects, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, renal toxicity, and scleroderma.
VA encourages all Veterans who feel their military service has affected their health to submit a claim, which will be adjudicated using the latest scientific and medical evidence. VA has granted non-presumptive service connection for ailments associated with Camp Lejeune, and does so on an individual, case-by-case basis after a physical examination and a review of a Veteran’s case, if the claimed condition is not one of the presumptive diseases.
Per federal law, establishing service connection for any disability requires a Veteran to have:
- A current illness or injury (known as a condition) that affects a Veteran’s body or mind;
- Evidence of an event or injury that occurred during military service; and
- Evidence showing that the disability is linked to the in-service event or injury.
If those elements are not present, by law, VA cannot grant a Veteran disability compensation.
For more information on eligibility for VA disability compensation, visit our website: https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/