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.
My husband is one of the Camp Lejeune Marines. The water took out his only kidney and now the cancer is back and he is dying.
I admit the VA has given him good care, and for that I will always be grateful. And they did give him 100%, but only when they were basically forced to when the 3/14/17 date for the law came. But he applied 15 months earlier, after being assured he would receive back pay. They said the whole thing had to go the route of Agent Orange.
He worried about me being broke when he died and was thrilled when the 100% came through, truly he was. But the VA managed to find a loophole (that we applied before the law passed) to steal his money. He earned that money, just like Agent Orange vets.
He will die soon because he served his country during that time. We don’t asked for anything more than those 15 months’ compensation. He had to retire almost immediately. Try living on Social Security after going months with no real income, and you’ll understand the frustration.
I will lose him soon.
The money will never right this terrible wrong. But he EARNED it! He paid for it with his life. He will die worrying that I will have a hard time getting by because of the debt that has been run up as we’ve waited for the promise of the compensation (including back pay).
This isn’t very well expressed, but I’m sitting here watching him die right now, minute by minute.
God forgive you, VA hierarchy, for cheating your heroes – not just my husband – out of what they paid for with their lives and the lives of their loved one! This isn’t really about “civilian exposure” in its truest sense, but I will live without him.
But, I am, and was, a civilian. It’s not a simple, packaged-up thing just for the military guy to experience himself. It’s for all of us who go through it to face.
Note from the Editor: The author currently resides in Fort Worth, Texas. The account/editorial is verbatim from the author without edit, with only the omission of their name to preserve anonymity.