Two U.S. Senators are at the forefront of the battle for veterans and families affected by the Camp Lejeune water contamination. Though only a baby step in the effort to bring deserved honor and recognition to those veterans who have unlawfully become victims, progress is finally being made.
U.S. Senators Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) and Richard Burr (R-NC) recently amended the Defense Appropriations Bill to raise awareness and prevent catastrophes like Camp Lejeune. The bill now prohibits the Navy’s disposal of water contaminant claims prior to scientific studies and proper investigation.
The Camp Lejeune tragedy has not only formed a pact between Marine families, but has also eliminated the divide between political parties for the sake of bringing justice to the men and women who risk their lives fighting for our country.
At the outset, the enemy at Camp Lejeune remained unseen. However, as the story continues to unfold, the true enemies are revealed as those who concealed the knowledge of water contamination. Sadly, the worst enemy was not behind enemy lines, but our own.
On Oct. 8, the Senate Committee of Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing in North Carolina regarding the toxic substances that veterans and their families were exposed to at Camp Lejeune.
“Because of its location in my home state, the exposure to water contamination at Camp Lejeune is very personal for me,” said Burr.
The impassioned senators have fought for their hometown heroes and heroes around the country. In July, Burr and Hagan introduced the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act of 2009, which would ensure medical care through Veterans’ Affairs for those stationed at Camp Lejeune during the water contamination.
The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is currently reviewing the bill.
Both Marines and their families were susceptible to rare forms of disease as a result of being stationed at Camp Lejeune. The presence of male breast cancer is perhaps the most striking correlation.
“I believe that, before we move forward in this matter, the remaining CDC studies into water contamination at Camp Lejeune must be completed. Marines and their families, who were exposed to dangerous chemicals in the Camp Lejeune drinking water over several decades, deserve to know how that exposure impacted their health,” said Hagan, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in the process of conducting studies to determine the connection between toxins and emerging health problems among Marines and their families who resided at Camp Lejeune between 1957 and 1987.
Burr and Hagan also requested that the Navy fully fund all future CDC studies pertaining to Camp Lejeune.
U.S Senator Sherrod Brown and member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is also making headway in Ohio. After attending a hearing to address military exposure issues, Brown rallied with thousands of Ohio at-risk veterans and families as a result of the Camp Lejeune water contamination, for justice.
Over 5,900 Ohio veterans attended the hearing and demanded better Marine Corps cooperation and Veterans’ Affairs representation.
“Do we save a few bucks or do we save a few lives? Scientific certainty shouldn’t trump human decency,” said Brown.
These U.S. Senators are making veterans and their families a priority, just as they make our country a priority on a daily basis. After being kept in the dark for decades, Burr, Hagan, and Brown are shedding some much needed light on the Camp Lejeune disaster.