Thursday, January 19th, 2017
Effective March 14, 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs has added certain diseases associated with contaminants present in the base water supply at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for veterans, former reservists, and former National Guard members, who served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days from August 1, 1953 to December 31, 1987, and who developed one of the following conditions: kidney cancer, liver cancer, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, adult leukemia, multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease, aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes, and bladder cancer. The new law establishes a presumption that these individuals were disabled during the relevant period for purposes of proving active military service for benefits purposes.
A veteran who did not have the 30 day service at Camp Lejeune could establish direct service connection for the conditions listed above; however, it would require (1) evidence of a current disease/disability; (2) evidence of exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune; and (3) a medical opinion which supports a relationship between the current disability and the exposure. This same process would apply for veterans who had the 30 days of service but developed a disability other than the eight conditions listed above.
The effective date of March 14, 2017 means that even if a claim was filed before that date, if the claim is granted based on the new regulation, benefits are only effective as of March 14, 2017.
The entire law can be read here.