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| Michael P. Ehline

VA Disabilities Benefits for Veterans Who Consumed Contaminated Groundwater

Throughout the history of the US Military, veterans have been exposed to dangerous and life-threatening conditions not due to war but because of a lack of management and proper research before setting up bases. On many occasions, these unsuspecting army individuals and their families were made to drink contaminated groundwater (laced with inorganic arsenic, Benzene, and other toxic substances.).

The consumption of contaminated groundwater resulted in the development of cancers and many other medical complications in these veterans and their families. Some of these conditions might continue to run in military families for many generations and result in congenital disabilities.

One of the controversies surrounding such incidents is whether or not the military knew about the condition of the tap water that these Marines and their family members were consuming.

Environmental Protection Agency and Water Contamination

Many of the damage veterans suffered during their active duty times could have been avoided if an agency like EPA had already been responsible for ensuring drinking water safety didn’t have inorganic arsenic and other banned poisons.

The Safe Drinking Water Act was passed in 1974, and things started changing for everyone, especially veterans. Today, EPA has some of the strictest standards in place that water supply systems have to ensure before they can distribute water to any country region.

Unfortunately, such stringent standards did not exist in 1953 or 1957 when the veterans and their innocent families consumed poisoned water for several days for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. This has caused heart problems, cancers, mental and emotional trauma, and even birth defects to veterans, their wives, and their offspring.

Now, before we get into the details of which sites had dry cleaning solvent contaminated water, what dangerous substances those water bodies contained, and how they affected the health of veterans and their families, let’s see what VA benefits are available from the federal government. What will Uncle Sam do for those affected by such adverse conditions?

VA Benefits for Veterans Who Consumed Contaminated Groundwater

It’s important to bring evidence that contaminated water could cause harm to human bodies. Do you have evidence of clinical signs of health problems, already been admitted on Veterans Affairs website? The DVA states that evidence exists of health conditions arising from contaminated groundwater.

Veterans Affairs currently highlights two sites that qualify for disability benefits due to water contamination. These sites are Marine Corps Air Station New River and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

Sadly, Camp Pendleton has its fair share of toxic water too. Yet, only Camp Lejeune vets are allowed to pursue more than just VA benefits from the federal government, likely for political reasons. So if you have spent 30 days or more at camp Lejeune or MCAS New River between 1953 and 1987, you may be eligible for disability benefits from Veterans Affairs as well as personal injury compensation on top of that amount.

More to Come, Says the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is also looking to study similar Air Force bases like Wurtsmith Strategic Air Command, which closed down in 1993. Their investigation will likely lead to evidence of toxic exposure on Department of Defense (DOD) bases in other countries.

We want to provide supportive care in any of these thousands of claims, not just on behalf of U.S. Marines and sailors. If you or a loved one require a listening ear, our team of veterans is standing by to learn and assist you. It’s high time you received some compassion from a fellow veteran before you meet your end and leave your family penniless, understand?

Requirements to Get VA Disability Benefits

In many cases, you have multiple requirements, and meeting one or two of them qualifies you for the benefits. Still, in the case of groundwater contamination disability benefits for veterans, you have to meet all the requirements. Firstly, you must prove that from 1953 to 1987, you spent 30 days or more at either MCAS New River or Camp Lejeune.

Secondly, your leave from the military must not be in the “dishonorable” category. Once you have made sure that you meet those two requirements, you have to prove the condition resulting from your water contamination exposure at either of those sites.

What it means is that these are the conditions that, if proved service-connected, will make you eligible for the said disability benefits. The requirements include but are not limited to kidney cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, bladder cancer, anemia (aplastic), leukemia (adult), etc.

Once you have met those requirements, you can qualify for disability benefits one or both ways, i.e., you get compensation in the form of monthly payments and healthcare coverage from the VA.

Who Qualifies for Disability Benefits due to Consumption of Drinking Water

It’s not just the veterans who qualify for these benefits. If you are one of the veteran’s family members, you can qualify for these benefits. More importantly, it would be best if you were the family member present with the veteran at MCAS New River or camp Lejeune.

Benefits for Veterans’ Family Members

As a family member, you qualify for the same benefits as a veteran. However, you should know that the list of medical conditions you can qualify for is longer for the family members than for veterans.

In addition to the cancers stated above, as a family member, you are also covered for scleroderma, renal toxicity, multiple myeloma, miscarriage, lung cancer, hepatic steatosis, female infertility, and breast cancer.

You can’t ignore that if you were staying with the veteran at the abovementioned sites, you were also consuming the same drinking water as them. What’s worse is that consuming this drinking water for an extended period could also cause diseases in the newborn. Furthermore, the medical conditions resulting from this exposure could run in the family for several decades.

You must fulfill specific requirements to get the benefits as a family member. The first thing you have to do is to prove your connection or relation with the veteran. These documents could include adoption papers or marriage licenses.

Secondly, you have to prove your presence at the site during the exact period 1953 to 1987. You could use certain tax documents, records of residence, and utility bills as proof of your stay at one of those sites.

Thirdly, you must prove through medical records that you have one of the conditions we just stated above. To be precise, VA covers you for 15 conditions as a veteran’s family member.

Covering Out-of-pocket Costs through Disability Benefits

If you have covered the costs of your medical expenses due to your exposure to contaminated water, you can get compensation for those out-of-pocket costs as well.

However, you must know that you will be eligible for those costs based on two conditions.

  1. You must produce proof of your medical expenses from 1957 to 1987; once you do, VA will cover your expenses from 2012 and onwards but with a 2-year prior margin from the application date.
  2. You must produce proof of your medical expenses from 1953 to 1956. Once you do, VA will cover your expenses from 2014 onwards but with a 2-year prior margin from the application date.

You can get a proper lawyer’s help to apply for these benefits without any problems.

VA Disability Benefits for Veterans

Now, if you are a veteran, you have to know the maximum amount you can be compensated for, how you will be compensated, and if you will get any benefits for the people dependent on you.

Suppose you can prove your cancer or medical condition due to the consumption of drinking water at one of the above mentioned sites. In that case, your disability benefits could be more than $3300 every month. The exact amount can be higher if you have dependents in the family.

The disability benefits from poisoned drinking water could be even higher if you have been disabled due to your services in the army and can’t find employment. In that case, you can be eligible for TDIU benefits.

TDIU stands for Total Disability Individual Unemployment. You can get these benefits if you can’t find work due to a medical condition or disability that has resulted from your exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune or a MCAS New River.

You should also know that your TDIU benefits are given to you in the form of monthly payments. If you applied for the same disability benefits before but were denied claims, you could apply again.

Now that you are clear about the benefits you can get from veterans affairs, it is important we talk about the main culprit and how it affected the veterans.

What Kind of Diseases Do Vets Get from Poisoned Groundwater

Suppose you or someone you know has served the military and were present at camp Lejeune or MCAS New River for 30 days or more. In that case, you must inquire about any medical complications and conditions you are currently facing or the person who was one of the service members.

Contaminated groundwater can result in a variety of cancer types. This toxic exposure is a result of the presence of certain chemicals in the water, which we will discuss later.

Let’s first look at the medical conditions resulting from consuming contaminated groundwater.

  • Scleroderma
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Renal Toxicity
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Stomach Cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Neurobehavioral complications
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Miscarriages
  • Cancer of the lungs
  • Blood Cancer (LLeukemia)
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Hepatic Steatosis
  • Breast Cancer
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Liver Cancer
  • Anemia

These are some of the many conditions that have resulted from chronic exposure to toxic substances at various military bases. If you have any clinical signs of these conditions, you should get in touch with a doctor as soon as possible.

The In-question Military Service Sites

No one wants to deal with the adverse health effects of these dangerous substances and then seek disability payments while ultimately losing the joy of life. Not to mention, you have to provide evidence of your residence at these sites and the existence of one of those conditions. The process of providing evidence, proving your relationship with the veteran and producing documents from decades ago can be mentally draining and frustrating.

Here are the sites that have resulted in adverse human health conditions and cancers in veterans and their families.

Camp Lejeune

The residing of veterans at this site has resulted in the highest number of serious medical conditions. This site is in North Carolina, and the veterans and their families who lived here consumed contaminated groundwater not only for cleaning and hygiene but also for cooking food and drinking. What was wrong with this drinking water? Various industries and factories released dry cleaning agents and other chemicals in this water.

What made matters worse for the Military here was that they knew these chemicals were present in the water. They chose to ignore the groundwater condition and let soldiers and their families consume it for several days.

The toxic water from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina has caused cancer in many veterans, and the clinical signs of those bodily damages are only emerging more every day. Get in touch with a doctor ASAP if you or someone you know served at camp Lejeune.

Camp Pendleton

Probably the site with the most toxic groundwater. This site in California exposed veterans and their families to the highest number of dangerous chemicals. EPA labeled the place as a cleanup site and exposed the toxic surface waters of this area by quoting a water well that was in dangerously close proximity to the site where the military disposed of many chemicals and substances.

In addition to water contamination, this site is also notorious for soil contamination. The soil in this area was just as dangerous, and VA recognizes that very well now. The contact with the polluted soil and water of the rivers at the site could have caused life-threatening conditions, including skin-related issues.

The veterans providing services in this area should not hold back from talking to a doctor and applying for VA benefits as soon as their illness is identified. At a site like this, you could say that the veterans’ health was more at risk than they were after exposure to arsenic, which resulted in arsenic poisoning and near burn pits. Arsenic poisoning occurs from inhaling, but at this site, the individuals drank polluted water and added poison to their blood.

The arsenic concentration you have been exposed to could even result in diabetes. While other exposures result in one disease, the contact of military service members with arsenic on a daily basis could result in various conditions, including skin problems, neurological disorders, and many gastrointestinal tract problems.

Anniston Depot

Located in Alabama, this was yet another site that proved to be a great impact on the life of many veterans. The worst part of this site was that the military also caused the contamination. The military was using the Anniston Army Depot as a storage facility for a variety of ammunition equipment and various other chemicals that it used for a variety of purposes.

The army also kept its fuel stored in this place. With time, these materials were causing the contamination of water bodies in the area. Unfortunately, the military families were using this water. The compounds causing groundwater contamination in this region were not limited to dry cleaning solvents.

The chemicals causing water contamination at this site were even more dangerous and deadly. It can be said that the toxic chemicals from the water in this region were pushing veterans and their families towards their deaths fast.

There is medical evidence that determines the toxicity of this region’s polluted groundwater may have resulted in many types of cancers.

The Dangerous Chemicals That Hurt Veterans

There are many chemicals that a military service member is exposed to during their service, and you could continue to count these chemicals. Here are some:

  • Benzene: The use or burn of plastic items would result in the production of benzene. A long period of contact with benzene can result in Leukemia.
  • PCE or Tetrachloroethylene: Products used for dry cleaning usually have this substance. Its contact can result in many types of vision-related issues.
  • DDT: Used for fighting certain diseases, DDT can cause neurological disorders and various other reproductive system issues in humans.
  • Lead: Exposing the human body to lead for long periods could hinder fertility and result in kidney cancer.

It’s true, there are many other substances and chemicals whose effects have resulted in severe medical conditions in retired military personnel and caused several types of cancers in many. These substances include trichloroethylene (TCE), methyl ethyl ketone, xylene, sarin gas, mustard gas, etc.

VA has acknowledged the effects of these chemicals, which is why several VA programs are ongoing to fight cancers and loss of life resulting from these chemicals.

In addition to that, there are generous benefits from VA for the retired army men and women who have developed any illnesses or conditions due to their contact with the chemicals.

Some People Want to Help

While many stand for the environment and the planet, there aren’t many that stand up for the unsung heroes and uncrowned kings of the military. You might not be able to have enough funds to support the treatment of cancer or other conditions in military vets, but you can definitely help them get treatment in other ways.

That’s what Michael Ehline is doing through his constant efforts. He is the son of a retired marine corps, Paul Ehline. Paul was a hero not only because he fought for his country by actively serving in the military but also because he had to fight cancer in the later years of his life.

He might not be world-famous, but his son wants to cherish his memories and has put together an event to remember him. This event is the annual Paul Ehline Annual Ride.

Sgt. Paul Ehline Annual Ride by Michael Ehline

The son of the brave marine corps has decided to celebrate his father’s glory through an annual ride. He made this ride possible with the help of another marine corps from Leathernecks MC. It doesn’t matter how the world treated a marine’s brave soldier. Still, the way LMCI treated Michael Ehline will always be remembered as they rode their motorcycles to celebrate a hero’s departure.

Michael has vowed to conduct this ride every year to remember his brave father and get some help from the sick from concentrations of inorganic arsenic or some other toxin diagnosis. He saw his father’s health decline with time, and now he wants to help the vets who have the same health issues in the later years of their lives.

Through this effort, he wants to contribute toward the vets’ health by accepting donations. In addition to that, he helps these vets by putting them in contact with the right people who can help them with their cases.

Help and Be Helped

While helping others, you can’t ignore yourself. Just like Michael Ehline is helping retired military vets by making efforts to collect donations, you can also help them. However, you have to make sure you take care of your health when you make efforts for others. Avoid motorcycle accidents at any cost, but when you run into one, ensure you get in touch with the right people. Michael Ehline is a passionate lawyer who cares for everyone who needs justice in their lives.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a car or motorcycle accident, you can get help from Paul Ehline Memorial Ride. You can discover more about his Paul Ehline Annual ride and contribute by being a part of it, through donations, or by asking others to participate.

Conclusion

Continue to do the great things you are doing in your life, but don’t forget about others that need your attention. Your soldiers, Marines, and air “people” are strong, but when exposed to adverse conditions day in and day out, they develop cancers and other diseases that they can’t fight without your help. Help them however you can and ask others to do the same.

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