Burr, Tillis continue efforts to secure disability benefits for Camp Lejeune vets

U.S. Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) recently continued their efforts to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) grants disability status to veterans from Camp Lejeune.

Approximately one million veterans and family members have suffered from such diseases as bladder cancer, Leukemia and Parkinson’s disease after consuming poisoned water at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987.

In a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shaun Donovan, Burr and Tillis called for the OMB to urge the VA to grant presumptive disability status to Camp Lejeune veterans.

“While affected veterans are receiving health care, many have lost their homes and their ability to work and financially support themselves because of the disabilities caused by the illnesses they developed from toxic exposure,” the senators wrote. “Many more are teetering on the brink of losing their homes and bankruptcy. This is not just a North Carolina problem; this is a national problem.”

Although veterans affected by the poisoned water are receiving healthcare, many have lost their homes and the ability to financially support themselves because of disabilities caused by toxic exposure, the senators added.

The current VA process for evaluating disability claims from Camp Lejeune, the senators continued, is insufficient and mired in bureaucracy.

“We are not of the opinion that scientific research on this issue is lacking or should give OMB pause in approving this rule,” the senators wrote. “To the contrary, the research that has been conducted on the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is exhaustive. The recent public health assessment conducted by ATSDR shows clear causal connection between the contaminated water and the nine conditions that are under consideration in this rule for presumption of service connection.”

Burr and Tillis urged the OMB to immediately approve the proposed rule so that it may proceed to a public comment period.

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