Diseases Associated With Exposure to Contaminants in the Water Supply at Camp Lejeune
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proposes to amend its adjudication regulations relating to presumptive service connection to add certain diseases associated with contaminants present in the base water supply at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune (Camp Lejeune), North Carolina, from August 1, 1953 to December 31, 1987. The chemical compounds involved have been associated by various scientific organizations with the development of certain diseases. This proposed rule would establish that veterans, former reservists, and former National Guard members, who served at Camp Lejeune for no less than 30 days (consecutive or nonconsecutive) during this period, and who have been diagnosed with any of eight associated diseases, are presumed to have a service-connected disability for purposes of entitlement to VA benefits. In addition, VA proposes to establish a presumption that these individuals were disabled during the relevant period of service, thus establishing active military service for benefit purposes. Under this proposed presumption, affected former reservists and National Guard members would have veteran status for purposes of entitlement to some VA benefits. This proposed amendment would implement a decision by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs that service connection on a presumptive basis is warranted for claimants who served at Camp Lejeune during the relevant period and for the requisite amount of time and later develop certain diseases. The Secretary's decision is supported by the conclusions of internationally recognized scientific authorities that strong evidence exists establishing a relationship between exposure to certain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that were in the water at Camp Lejeune and later development of certain disabilities.