If you believe you are a victim of Camp Lejeune water contamination and are seeking compensation and benefits, there are specific steps you can take to pursue your claim. The contamination at Camp Lejeune has affected thousands of military personnel and their families, causing a range of health problems.
Here's what you need to know about compensation and benefits for Camp Lejeune contamination victims.
What is Camp Lejeune?
The Camp Lejeune water contamination issue refers to the exposure of military personnel and their families to contaminated drinking water at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina between the 1950s and 1980s. The contaminants included volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including benzene, trichloroethylene (TCE), and perchloroethylene (PCE). The contamination has been linked to a range of health problems, including cancer, birth defects, and other illnesses.
What Compensation and Benefits Are Available?
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides compensation and benefits to Camp Lejeune contamination victims. These benefits may include:
- Disability compensation: If you have a disability that is related to your exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, you may be eligible for disability compensation. This compensation is tax-free. The amount is based on the severity of your disability and how it impacts your daily life. To apply for disability compensation, you would need to submit a claim to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
- Health care: The Camp Lejeune healthcare program provides eligible veterans and family members with access to healthcare services for conditions related to the water contamination. This includes coverage for the treatment of 15 specific illnesses or conditions associated with the exposure, such as certain types of cancer, neurological disorders, and kidney problems.
- Dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC): DIC is a benefit provided to surviving spouses, children, and dependent parents of veterans who died as a result of their military service. If the cause of death is determined to be connected to the Camp Lejeune water contamination, eligible dependents may be entitled to DIC benefits.
- Reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses: Under certain circumstances, Camp Lejeune victims may be reimbursed for eligible out-of-pocket expenses related to healthcare services received outside of the VA healthcare system. These expenses could include costs for medical treatments, medications, and transportation to medical appointments.
- Vocational rehabilitation and employment: If you have a service-connected disability resulting from the Camp Lejeune water contamination that impacts your ability to work, you may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation and employment services. These programs assist in developing job skills, providing career counseling, and offering support for finding suitable employment opportunities.
How Do I Apply for Compensation and Benefits?
You'll need to submit a claim to the VA to apply for compensation and benefits. You can do this online, by mail, or in person at a VA regional office. You'll need to provide documentation of your exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, as well as documentation of any health problems you're experiencing.
To apply for compensation and benefits as a Camp Lejeune victim, follow these steps:
Gather relevant documents: Collect any documents related to your time at Camp Lejeune, such as service records, medical records, and any evidence linking your health conditions to the contaminated water.
Determine eligibility: Make sure you meet the eligibility criteria for compensation and benefits. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the Camp Lejeune veterans and family members who may be eligible for benefits are:
- Active duty, reserve, and National Guard members who served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
- Dependents (spouses, children, and dependent parents) of those who lived or were present at Camp Lejeune during the same period.
Contact the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): Reach out to the VA to inquire about the Camp Lejeune water contamination benefits program and to start the application process. You can call the VA's toll-free number at 1-877-222-8387 or visit their website (www.va.gov) for further information.
Complete the necessary forms: The VA will provide you with the appropriate forms to complete for your claim. This may include the Application for Disability Compensation, Application for Health Benefits, or other relevant forms. Fill out the forms accurately and provide all the requested information.
Submit your claim: Once you have completed the forms, submit your claim to the VA for review. Be sure to include any supporting documentation that strengthens your case, such as medical records linking your health conditions to the contaminated water.
Follow up on your claim: Stay in contact with the VA and regularly check the status of your claim. You may need to provide additional information or attend medical examinations to support your claim.
Consult with a veterans service organization (VSO): Consider seeking assistance from a recognized VSO, such as the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) or the American Legion. They can provide guidance, help you navigate the process, and advocate on your behalf.
The process of applying for compensation and benefits can be complex and time-consuming. An experienced personal injury attorney can help guide you through the process and ensure that you receive the compensation and benefits you're entitled to.
If you or someone you know has been affected by the contamination at Camp Lejeune, contact Mann Blake & Jackson Law today.