Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Bill Passes Senate

Important to pass this on to anyone you know who was stationed at Camp Lejeune. As you may suspect, they will not be sending out memos to those who  were exposed. It is only by word of mouth and select media stories, few of whom follow up after the initial story, that the findings and benefits are circulated.

Senate passes Camp Lejeune water-contamination bill





WASHINGTON — After an impasse with a South Carolina senator was broken, the Senate passed a historic bill Wednesday by unanimous consent that would help thousands of sick Marine veterans and their families who were exposed to contaminated water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Sens. Patty Murray, a Washington state Democrat who’s the head of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, brokered the deal on the Senate floor moments before she was expected to force his hand by publicly calling for a unanimous-consent vote on the measure.

Instead, she announced that they’d reached a “gentlemen’s agreement” on modifications DeMint had been seeking in the bill.

“These families have waited for decades to get the assistance that they need and should not be forced to wait any longer,” Murray said from the Senate floor.

DeMint said he was always supportive of the “underlying bill,” but he’d put a procedural hold on it and charged that there weren’t enough safeguards to prevent fraud by those whose illnesses weren’t due to contaminated water.

“The modification would make sure the veterans who deserve these benefits get them and they’re not taken advantage of by fraud from others who don’t deserve it,” he said from the floor.

Last month, the House of Representatives and Senate veterans committees agreed on a bill that would provide health care to sick military personnel and their family members provided they’d lived or worked at least 30 days on the base from 1957 to 1987. They also must have a condition listed within the bill that’s associated with exposure to these chemicals.

The agreed-on changes add language from existing laws that provides exceptions if a doctor can prove that the person didn’t contract the illness from the base’s contaminated water. For example, if the person had the illness before being at Camp Lejeune.

The changes ended a standoff between DeMint and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., who was the lead sponsor of the measure.

“This has been a long time coming, and unfortunately many who were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune over the years have died as a result and are not with us to receive the care this bill can provide,” Burr said in a statement. “While I wish we could have accomplished this years ago, we now have the opportunity to do the right thing for the thousands of Navy and Marine veterans and their families who were harmed during their service to our country.”

Congressional aides said the House might take up and pass the bill in the next couple of weeks. It could be on President Barack Obama’s desk by the end of the summer.

The measure is expected to help as many as 750,000 veterans and their families who were exposed to drinking water that was poisoned with trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, benzene and vinyl chloride.

“This is a huge first step,” said Mike Partain of Tallahassee, Fla., who lived at Camp Lejeune as an infant. “We’ve been waiting for over 15 years for a resolution to this.”

Five years ago, Partain, who’s now 44, learned that he had breast cancer. Partain was born at Camp Lejeune, where his father was a Marine officer. Fewer than 2,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, but Partain said he’d since found 80 male breast cancer patients from across the country with connections to Camp Lejeune.



VA Rolls Out New Claim Process

Any of you who have benefited from the VA claim process know how hard this Administration has worked over the past 10 years to update and improve the system of delivery.  Retired General Eric Shinseki has done a stellar job in implementing programs, from the expediting of the lingering Agent Orange claims to taking care of our rural veterans.  I like this guy.

In the climate of political polarity, pugnacity and pugilistic radio show hosts, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. There are people who wake every day with the intention of making the world a better place. The Veterans Administration, with all their foibles, is one of them.



The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced July 11 it is deploying a new
model for processing compensation benefits claims at 16 of its regional offices.
The new model is part of a comprehensive transformation plan designed to yield
an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 additional compensation claim decisions
annually, while ensuring that veterans who are most in need get high priority.
“This new model is a part of our comprehensive plan to eliminate the
compensation claims backlog,” said Allison Hickey, VA’s undersecretary for
benefits. “Our redesigned model follows comprehensive planning and testing to
ensure we have the right recipe for success.”
As of July 11, VA reported a total number of 883,914 pending disability claims
in its system; 588,447 of those are in backlog (pending more than 125 days).
For the past two fiscal years, VA has completed more than 1 million claims;
Hickey said the department is on target to hit the same benchmark for fiscal
2012. In the past four months, the accuracy rate for VA claims processors has
risen from 83 to 87 percent.
Recently, VA has been focusing on completing the disability claims for Vietnam
War-era veterans. Last year, 260,000 claims for Agent Orange-related illnesses
were completed.
“We are done with that, and redirecting more than 2,300 claims experts to handle
the remaining backlog,” Hickey said, adding that 83 percent of veterans from the
global war on terrorism who filed disability claims are already receiving
The new organizational model involves the special handling of claims from
veterans with the most serious injuries or illnesses, experiencing financial
hardships, or are homelessness, and need immediate attention. Through a new
“intake processing center,” claims are routed to one of three segmented lanes:
• Express: claims that have only one or two medical conditions, or have all the
supporting documentation, medical evidence and service records needed for an
expeditious rating decision (referred to as fully developed claims).
• Special Operations: claims requiring special handling because of the unique
circumstances of the veterans. These include financial hardship, homelessness,
serious wounds, injuries or illnesses, post-traumatic stress disorder associated
with military sexual trauma, and former prisoner-of-war status.
• Core: claims with more than two medical conditions, or those that will need
additional evidence to make a compensation decision.
The segmented-lanes approach helps to increase speed and accuracy because the
claims specialists are processing claims with similar levels of complexity.
Hickey said that VA expects 20 percent of claims to be handled in the express
lane, 20 percent in special operations, and 60 percent in the core lane.
Veterans and their veterans service organization representatives are encouraged
to provide all the needed evidence along with their application in a “fully
developed claim” in order to expedite the process. Hickey said that any veteran
who wants to file a claim should work with their VSOs, who know how to
thoroughly develop claims and, secondly, be sure to use VA’s disability benefits
Sixteen regional offices have received the new segmented-lanes model, including
Huntington, W.Va.; Hartford, Conn.; Portland, Ore.; Houston, Cleveland, Des
Moines, Iowa; Boise, Idaho; Phoenix, New Orleans, San Juan, Puerto Rico;
Atlanta, Indianapolis, Wichita, Kan.; Milwaukee, Newark, N.J.; and Fort
Harrison, Mont. These offices will also receive new technology systems and
software upgrades over the next three months.
All of the people, processes, and technology initiatives in VA’s transformation
plan should be fully implemented at all 56 VA regional offices by the end of

God Bless
Jose M. Garcia PNC
National Service Officer
Catholic War Veterans,USA
Better to understand a little than to misunderstand a lot.
In God We Trust