The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Tuesday that it will
soon start to cover out-of-pocket health-care costs for Marine
dependents who contracted cancer and other illnesses from toxic water at
Camp Lejeune, as promised two years ago by law.
In 2012, Congress passed the landmark Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act.
provided health care for Marines and family members who had lived on
the base near Jacksonville, N.C., from 1957 to 1987 and who had suffered
from any of 15 illnesses named in the law. These included cancer
related to the lungs, bladder, breasts, kidneys and esophagus, as well
as leukemia and problems involving female infertility.
750,000 people were exposed to drinking water at the base that was
polluted with chemicals that included industrial solvents and benzene
from fuels. The chemicals resulted from spills, a dump site on base,
leaking underground storage tanks on base and an off-base dry cleaner.
the 2012 law, VA immediately offered full care for veterans who had
been stationed at Lejeune, but it told their dependents who suffered
from covered illnesses that they would have to wait to be reimbursed.
announcement of final rules on Tuesday meant that later this year the
agency will start to reimburse family members under the 2012 law for
costs since March 26, 2013, that were not covered by insurance. The date
is when Congress appropriated funding. The rules first must be
published in the Federal Register, to be followed by a 30-day waiting
period before people can file claims.