The following is a personal story submitted to Civilian Exposure and published as part of our new series: “Contamination Chronicles: Personal Stories of Exposure”. If you would like to submit your story, you may fill out our form here or send directly via email to [email protected]
I was a corpsman at Camp Lejeune for four years. I was on independent duty as Senior for the Rifle Range Dispensary. We were to farm out treatment but records were kept there. We had a full dispensary for standard problems. We had medical records for R/R staff, maintained shots and shot records, and were caregivers for most problems. We had a pharmacy with most of the medications we needed.
When I first fell ill, I had passed blood via urination. Soon it was all blood. An x-ray showed a stone 5cm x 5cm, much too large to pass. When they removed the stone, they put me back under so they could then remove my 12th rib. The lab report showed it was cancer. The entire time at hospital, I had sore throats and severe stomach pain. Doctors just passed out Donnatal pills for my stomach. Swabs from my throat always showed infection. So Tetracycline was filled over and over for it. I had rashes on my legs and arms after showers. That was normal for most of us.
I had four Marines for ambulance drivers plus a staff of six both to handle medical calls and to help fill medications that were written at the dispensary, as well as any from the Courthouse Bay dispensary, which often ran short of medications. We had two doctors who we could call. One was usually only 6-10 miles away at Courthouse Bay, where they had larger staff and more people on staff.
I often went back to see friends in base housing after my duty was up. When me and my wife did visit, at least one of the children seemed to always be sick with sore throats, stomach problems, or rashes like I still have to this day. That was in 1974. I was so busy when I requested leave that the boss would ask me to put it off. I did and had 120 days on the books, though you only get paid for 90. But major medical problems with kidneys and heart and skin and stomach have never gone away
I have had stents and a balloon IUD in my heart. I average passing 4 or 5 kidney stones. I follow my diet and everything else all the urologists tell me to do, but they just still keep on coming. Yes, I think we all know the water weakened our entire bodies and the younger you were the worst your life has been. I have hurt since 1973. Three years there started hitting me. Effects on children are probably much worse. But, I do not believe the VA or any government agency will really fully address and give complete care for the problems they gave us. We just suffer for the rest of our lives as short or long as we have.
The blood of service men and women is the grease that runs the big companies that make money off of weapons, planes, tanks, computers, and all of the thousands of other things that make an army. Our blood is the grease, or no production.
And we get the short end of the stick.
Note from the Editor: The author currently resides in North Carolina. The account/editorial is verbatim from the author without edit, with only the omission of their name to preserve anonymity.