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.
I first was stationed at Camp Lejeune in March of 1969 as a student at Courthouse Bay learning to operate heavy equipment. I was there for approximately 3 months.
My next visit to the Camp Lejeune area came in 1974 when I got stationed at MCAS (H) New River. My wife and two young children moved into TT 1 (Tarawa Terrace I) as base housing. While I was deployed from time to time, the wife and children remained at TT 1 where they bathed, drank and ate food that was prepared in poison water.
My problem with the contaminated water issue is the unknown health damage done to my loved ones and myself.
As hurtful is the application process. Applicants would almost need a law degree to submit paperwork needed. I believe the Veterans Administration purposely designed the application as to discourage veterans from submitting forms at all. I also believe that veterans are not receiving the help they are entitled to.
Editor’s Response: If you spent 30 days + on Lejeune, that constitutes exposure that qualifies for assistance from the VA if you have one or more specific health issues. In addition, your wife and children would also be qualified for assistance for potential related health issues via the Camp Lejeune Family Member Program – http://bit.ly/civilian-exposure-lejeune-family-members. That said, your opinion regarding the VA is shared by many. They have made the process cumbersome. Proving causation through nexus letters, records, and all of the other paperwork is time-consuming. Plus, it is then up to some Subject Matter Expert they’ve hired (proven to sometimes not having specialties directly related to your health concern, by the way), which usually overrule your medical expert. In fact, almost 96% of cases leading up to 2015 were being denied by the VA. That denial rate has come down now, thanks in part to some health issues being declared as “presumptive”. However, if you do not have a presumptive illness, then you’ll have to go through the regular claim process – which remains tedious. – GS
Note from the Editor: The author currently resides in Arizona. The account/editorial is verbatim from the author without edit, with only the omission of their name to preserve anonymity.