VA to provide disability benefits for related diseases
On 14 March 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) proposed regulations to establish presumptions for the service connection for eight diseases associated with exposure to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina became effective. On September 9, 2016, VA had published in the Federal Register (81 FR 62419) a notice of a proposal to amend 38 CFR 3.307 and 3.309. The Congress did not intervene.
The presumption of service connection applies to active-duty, reserve and National Guard members who served at Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 30 days (cumulative) between 1 August 1953 and 31 December 1987and are diagnosed with any of the following conditions:
- Adult leukemia
- Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes
- Bladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Parkinson’s disease
The locations affected are Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River, including their satellite camps and housing areas.
This presumption complements the health care already provided for 15 illnesses or conditions as part of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012. That act required the VA to provide health care to veterans who served at Camp Lejeune, and to reimburse family members or pay providers for medical expenses for those who resided there for not fewer than 30 days between 1 August 1953 and 31 December 1987.
What this regulatory amendment adds to the equation is the ability for a veteran to apply for service-connected, monetary compensation in addition to applying for and receiving health care, using the presumption that the illness/disease listed above were the result of being stationed at Camp Lejeune and the other locations listed. The burden of proof is much eased and the process expedited. In other words, the process is the same as for Agent Orange presumptive conditions.
We also doubt this will be the end of this sad story which originally began with Department of Defense inaction, lest we forget.
As of 17 March 2017