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 share-@-civilianexposure.org.
Active duty Marines, their families, and civilians alike between 1953 and 1987 have reportedly been exposed to myriad toxins via the water supply at Camp Lejeune, NC. At this time, only a handful of maladies have been identified by the VA for compensation and little actual research is being conducted to support other claims. In fact, this is often the case with most military related exposures to toxic agents. Like a large insurance company, the VA guards its monetary reimbursement policies to protect its financial resources by limiting compensatory conditions regardless of frequency or severity.
I was stationed at Camp Lejeune between August or September of 1984 until December of the same year while attending Combat Engineer School at Courthouse Bay. Over the course of the proceeding 34 years, I have developed a variety of medical conditions, some of which the Baltimore VA hospital have determined are from the exposure to toxins while I was stationed there.
For years, my blood pressure has been gradually escalating, i have developed degenerative disc disease, and most recently been diagnosed by a team of medical professionals at that facility with fibromyalgia. Frequent trips to the ER for widespread pain are often seen by ER physicians as “drug seeking” behavior. I am sure that somewhere in my progress notes, I am classified as narcotic dependent. So be it.
When I suffer from an acute flare up which is characterized by extreme fatigue, fibro-fog, back, shoulder, arm, neck and leg pain, my maintenance dose of morphine and gabapentin are insufficient to quell the extreme and intense condition caused by all of my neurons firing with verocity simultaneously. Words cannot describe the intensity of the experience yet, doctors governed by politicians are reluctant to treat me with the dignity and respect I deserve and leave me writhing in pain as I lie in the ER for hours untreated.
I submit that further study needs to be undertaken to determine any and all conditions associated with this inexcusable behavior by the Marine Corps. Veterans, their families and civilians alike who are riddled with cancer, fibromyalgia, degenerative diseases associated with neurotoxicity, elevated blood pressure and other physical and behavioral conditions or other illnesses have the right to know that their government is proactively conducting research on their behalf.
I call on my congressman Brian Mast to spearhead a campaign to create a budget and identify a controlling agency to determine all medical and psychological conditions that are a direct result of ingesting water from the base water supply at Camp Lejeune and push the slow moving VA to expand their list of medical conditions that compensatory.
We gave our all as dedicated servants. Now it is time for the VA to recognize the severity of this issue. The VA must rise to the occasion before we are too old to benefit from the disability compensation we deserve.
Note: The author currently resides in Maryland. This account/editorial is verbatim from the author without edit, with only the omission of their name to preserve anonymity.