Is VA Implementing 2012 Camp Lejeune Assistance Law Fast Enough?

I was reading the New Bern Sun Journal editorial regarding the VA beginning to implement the The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 (H.R. 1627). Link to the article is at the end of this paragraph. I encourage you to pop it open and take a read, then read the commentary below. Suffice it to say, the article tries to sum up Camp Lejeune contamination, but leaves out a lot of information and research. While the editorial does call out and criticize the two years of lag from time of passage to implementation, it also characterizes the VA’s moves for assistance as finally “light at the end of the tunnel” for marines and their families. Unfortunately, that’s far from the case.

Editorial link 9/29/2014 in New Bern Sun Journal: http://www.newbernsj.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-lejeune-families-finally-getting-help-1.379903

Yes, this is a good step but now is not the time for anyone to ease up. It is time to double-down. Much is left to do. My commentary from the bottom of the article –

camp-lejeune-water-contamination-civilian-exposureWhile this is an important step, it is only a first step. I’m the founder of CivilianExposure.org and this news only scratches the surface of the breadth and depth of this environmental disaster. While this means that assistance derived from the 2012 law is starting to get traction, there is still plenty of dysfunction that remains.

First, I disagree completely that this is the “light at the end of the tunnel”, as military veterans still face headwinds when they walk into a VA clinic and ask about this issue. Either they get incomplete information or no guidance at all from those working at some clinics. This goes to the questionable training and documentation used within the VA to address the issue. I have seen documents that are appalling in their characterizations of both the issue at hand and the vets/families seeking assistance.

Second, this coverage doesn’t even begin to address scores of civilian DOD personnel that worked aboard base during the past 6 decades. A recent Civilian Mortality Study (http://www.civilianexposure.org/new-download-full-copy-of-camp-lejeune-civilian-mortality-study/) released from the CDC/ATSDR shows elevated risk for a number of cancers and health issues for civilians.

Third, this doesn’t begin to address infant mortality or birth defects derived from the exposure. There’s a separate study just out also for this: http://civilianexposure.org/camp-lejeune-atsdr-release-birth-defects-and-childhood-cancer-study . Read for yourself and realize that this will be a generational problem of much greater proportions than has ever been reported.

Fourth, I also disagree with the mention only of the wells contaminated by the dry cleaners. Those wells are small issue now compared with the dozens of wells and contaminated sites throughout the base that have now been documented. Have a look: http://civilianexposure.org/contamination-maps/ .

If that’s not enough, consider that the water contamination is just one aspect of the issue. Even worse is the soil vapor intrusion problem that STILL exists. There are plumes of toxic contaminants underground that continue to pose potential threat: http://civilianexposure.org/what-is-soil-vapor-intrusion/.

I lost my father to acute leukemia (one of many issues linked) six years ago. He worked on base as a civilian DOD worker from ’73-’98. That’s why I started CivilianExposure.org and will continue to work with all constituencies, government agencies and groups involved to ensure that this ongoing environmental and health disaster continues to get the spotlight that it deserves. Follow @CivilianExposed #civilianexposure on Twitter and on Facebook.com/CivilianExposureOrg .

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Civilian Exposure

Civilian Exposure is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization/public charity working to Build Awareness, Accountability and Assistance for Civilians Exposed to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination and all citizens exposed to any toxic contamination aboard all U.S. military installations. The effort continues to inform civilian employees and others affected by contamination to receive both the guidance and the justice they deserve.

About the Founder
A 20-year veteran of media, marketing, non-profits and entrepreneurship, Gavin P. Smith leads Civilian Exposure, a non-profit assisting civilians and veterans exposed to U.S. military contamination; the Keta Foundation, a collaborative foundation dedicated to mitigating modern slavery through economic improvement projects in Africa; and Gavin Consulting, a network of virtual experts serving global clients; He is also a former member of the CDC/ATSDR Camp Lejeune Community Assistance Panel. Mr. Smith holds a Master of Global Management with distinction (Beta Gamma Sigma) from Thunderbird School of Global Management, an MBA from The College of William & Mary Mason School of Business and a BA in History from Wake Forest University.

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