For 30 years, the water at Camp Lejeune Marine Base in North Carolina was contaminated with high levels of various hazardous chemicals.
The contaminants reportedly included a dry cleaning solvent, an industrial degreaser, and many others.
In August, President Barack Obama signed an act that approved VA health care benefits for veterans who served at least 30 days at Camp Lejeune between Jan. 1, 1957, and Dec. 31, 1987.
"If we have people who are having problems because of the exposure to the contaminated water, we'd like them to come in to research the possibility of submitting a claim," Warren County Veterans Affairs Director Ed Burris said.
The coverage includes 15 specified illnesses and conditions: esophageal cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes, renal toxicity, hepatic steatosis, female infertility, miscarriage, scleroderma, neurobehavioral effects, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"For service members who were assigned to Camp Lejeune during that period who have since passed away, if the cause of death could be related to Camp Lejeune water, there is the possibility of benefits for surviving spouses," Burris said. "There are some limitations."
While the law also provides care for family members who lived at the base for at least 30 days, funding has not yet been appropriated nor have regulations been written.
The VA suggests that family members get documents establishing their connections to veterans at Camp Lejeune in order. "VA cannot take any documents from family members at this time," according to the document.
Gulf War benefits
Veterans of the Southwest Asia theater of operations in the 1990s who have been denied VA program benefits may now be eligible.
Burris suggested that veterans serving active duty in the Persian Gulf between Aug. 2, 1990, and Nov. 11, 1998, contact his office to check eligibility.
"Veterans who were previously denied admittance... could be eligible for care at the VA," Burris said. "It's another group of people that we can possibly get into the VA."
The Warren County Veterans Affairs office can be reached at 728-3477.