Updated: Sep 8, 2022
The contamination of the water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina from dry cleaning chemicals has become well known for many. Lasting from 1953 until 1987, generations of military personnel and their families were affected. The Department of Veteran Affairs eventually stepped up and allowed benefits claims for the multitude of Illnesses caused by these chemicals, but the slow VA process left many without assistance for years.
It stands to reason that Camp Lejeune is not the only military base affected by contaminated water. In 2021 personnel and families at Pease Air Force Base in New Hampshire had spoken out so much that health officials called for people to sign up in a health study conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Likewise, in Hawaii, families at Pearl Harbor-Hickman Field have concern about petroleum and lead in the water, especially at the base child development center. Reports of fuel in the drinking water of 9,000 homes lead to the families being evacuated and sent to motels. Even after water lines were flushed, the petroleum remains. Military bases are prime locations for these types of water contaminations, especially if there was an airport that used fire suppressant foam.
According to the EPA, Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, also known as PFAS, are a group of manufactured chemicals that have been used since the 1940’s because of their useful properties. The common characteristic of concern of PFAS is that many break down very slowly and can build up in people, animals, and the environment over time.
DoD’s use of PFAS started in the 1970s, with the introduction of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) for fuel firefighting purposes. AFFF contains PFAS and may contain perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and, in some formulations, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), two chemicals of the larger class of PFAS. DoD is one of many users of AFFF; other major users include commercial airports, the oil and gas industry, and local fire departments.
In May 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) lifetime Health Advisories (HAs) recommending the individual or combined levels of PFOS and PFOA in drinking water be at or below 70 parts per trillion (ppt). The DoD Components have tested all DoD-owned and operated drinking water systems to identify drinking water that exceeded the EPA HAs for PFOS and PFOA. Pictured is a map that shows the location of the Military Installations and National Guard Facilities where DoD is conducting assessments for PFAS use or potential release as of March 30, 2021.
Unfortunately, the DoD waited until 2011 to warn service members about risks posed by PFAS. The department has also been slow to switch to PFAS-free alternatives and clean up legacy PFAS pollution. The non-profit Environmental Working Group has so far confirmed PFAS in the tap water or ground water at 329 military installations, through FOIA requests. EWG has additionally identified 679 military sites with known or suspected discharges of PFAS. Click here to see the interactive map.
If you served at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River in North Carolina, you may be eligible for disability benefits if you meet all of these requirements.
Both of these must be true:
You served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River for at least 30 cumulative days from August 1953 through December 1987, and
You didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge when you separated from the military
And you must have a diagnosis of one or more of these presumptive conditions:
Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
Read more here at VA.gov. If you are having trouble getting a proper VA medical rating, contact the experts at United Veteran Benefits Agency to find out if we may help. Call 573-412-5100 to schedule an information gathering session today.