Posted by Gregory M. Rada | January 15, 2024 | Disability Compensation
Presumptive service connection for diseases associated with water contamination at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune (Camp Lejeune) in North Carolina is a noteworthy benefit for veterans. This presumption, established by 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.307(a)(7) and 3.309(f), is for veterans, reservists, and National Guard members who served for at least 30 days, consecutively or not, between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, at Camp Lejeune.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a specific definition of “service at Camp Lejeune”. This includes any service within the borders of Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, proven by military orders or other official records. However, service at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point or aboard amphibious vessels docked at Camp Lejeune is excluded unless there are official documents indicating assignment to serve at Camp Lejeune.
This rule is rooted in scientific studies examining the long-term health effects of exposure to certain chemicals for individuals who served at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987. This investigation was triggered by the discovery of elevated levels of chemicals, such as trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride, in the water supply at Camp Lejeune.
The diseases presumed to be service-connected due to “service at Camp Lejeune” under 38 C.F.R. § 3.309(f) include:
This list may be updated in the future. The presumption of service connection applies if the qualifying disease manifests to a degree of 10 percent or more after service and the veteran had the requisite service at Camp Lejeune.
While these presumptions are favorable to veterans, they are not ironclad. If evidence shows that the current disability resulted from a non-service-related cause, the VA might deny the claim.
Veterans who don’t satisfy the VA’s definition of “service at Camp Lejeune” or those whose conditions aren’t listed under 38 C.F.R. § 3.309(f), can still receive disability compensation under the traditional theory of direct service connection. But, the presumption would not apply, meaning a veteran would need a medical nexus opinion linking their disability to exposure to contaminants in the water at Camp Lejeune.
For example, prostate cancer has been linked to many of the chemicals in the water at Camp Lejeune. So it could be possible to win service connection for prostate cancer even
Navigating the intricacies of VA’s presumption of service connection for diseases related to water contamination at Camp Lejeune can be challenging. Yet, it is an essential task to ensure that all those who are entitled receive their deserved benefits. Reach out to me if you think you have a disability caused by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Gregory Rada is an Air Force veteran that helps veterans nationwide receive the benefits to which they are entitled. He works with all his clients one-on-one from the start of their case to the end and never hands them off to case managers or paralegals. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.