Service members and dependents who became sick as a result of their exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, N.C, will be treated for their maladies for free. The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Jan. 13 in the Federal Register that such persons would be presumed as having service-connected illnesses, if they can show that they lived at Lejeune from Aug. 1, 1953, to Dec. 31, 1987. The water at the base was contaminated with chemicals and industrial materials that leached into reservoirs. The move is a victory for veterans’ service organizations, which have long pressed VA and the Defense Department to acknowledge that the sicknesses were related to water-table contamination. Even though VA will treat illnesses, the department said the change does not necessarily include approval for pensions due to service-connected disability.
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