They are now scattered around the country. Some have moved several states away — possibly to Missouri — and some may have only moved miles away, but this group of around 1 million people has one thing in common. They cooked using, brushed their teeth with or otherwise consumed the water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina between the years 1957 and 1987.
Why would it matter whether they consumed the water at that military base? That water was found to contain very serious contaminants that have been linked to cancers such as lung, kidney or childhood leukemia.
At least 230,918 individuals have been notified by the military of the water contamination and possible health complications that could result from exposure. A number of those that were exposed have already been diagnosed with serious or even terminal cancers or gave birth to children with birth defects.
Some of the veterans have looked to the civil tort system as a way to find relief, but a North Carolina law acts as an impediment their claims. The problem is that for many, the contamination occurred over a decade ago. The statute of limitations in this jurisdiction bars recovery 10 years after the exposure occurred, not when the illness appears or when the individual is diagnosed.
Two years ago, legislation was enacted that provides a way for those affected by this contamination to benefit from extended medical care.
Extended medical care is necessary for many people that have been diagnosed with an illness such as cancer. The treatment alone can leave an individual unable to work for a period of one year or more. For these veterans, Social Security disability benefits may be another option for relief.
Source: Pioneer Press, “Ruben Rosario: Ex-Marine in a fight for her life after Camp Lejeune exposure,” Ruben Rosario, Feb. 1, 2014