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Family Members Seek Compensation For Contaminated Water At Lejeune

Contaminated water at the Camp Lejeune military base has been linked to adverse health effects.
Courtesy of Sanjay Parekh

The Department of Veterans Affairs says it's prepared to compensate Marine Corps family members who were exposed to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune.

The V.A. announced in October that it will now begin helping family members who were sickened by water at the base. The Marine Corps has said as many as 1 million people may have consumed contaminated water between 1957 and 1987.

"I was glad to see it finally come to fruition, but my big question is why did it take two years after the president signed this thing into law for them to start providing the benefits? It's inexcusable," said Jerry Ensminger, a retired Marine Master Sergeant who spent 11 years at Lejeune.

Ensminger is skeptical of the V.A. He says the organization looks for ways to deny coverage. Calls to the V.A. were not returned.

Any military member who lived on the base for 30 days during the period where there was contaminated water is eligible for free V.A. treatment, according to the law. The contaminated water had at least a dozen chemicals. Diseases that are believed to have developed following consumption include bladder, breast, kidney, lung and esophageal cancer.

Photo courtesy of Sanjay Parekh.

Jeff Tiberii covers politics for WUNC. Before that, he served as the station's Greensboro Bureau Chief.
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