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 never heard about the water at Camp Lejeune until about a month ago. I was born there in 1962. My life has been plagued by health problems. As of this writing, I am in a wheelchair with so many medical issues the doctors are having trouble deciding which to address first. None of the law firms I have attempted to contact have replied. I fought for 8 years — through two new applications, three denials, and a federal court hearing — just to get SSI and Medicaid, and they were given strictly on the basis of present medical condition and employability. No mention of Camp Lejeune, bad water, settlements…nada. From where I sit (in a wheelchair), since the bastards made me work for it, and since no-one ever even MENTIONED the water or my birthplace, that measly $750 a month and the substandard medical care that Medicare will cover, well, it just ain’t gonna cut it.
Seizures as an infant (mom drank that water through most of the pregnancy, my first baths, formula ); respiratory problems, anemia, behavioral and emotional issues as a child; joint problems starting in my teens, degenerative joint disease diagnosed in early 20’s, such advanced arthritis in neck, spine, hips, knees, shoulders, that I live in a wheelchair now in my mid 50’s. I was a musician. Now, when I try to listen to music, I have to fight back tears. And, since I learned the hard way about addictive substances, I take NO opiate or opioid painkillers. I live with horrible pain, and expect nothing but pain for the rest of my life.
And, the ultimate insult atop the injury is the knowledge that this was done to me. Not freak chance or dumb luck, not bad genetics or accidental exposure. No, this was done with full knowledge and awareness that the water was poisoned.
Those bastards owe me. And I don’t have a freakin’ clue what to do about it.