On Friday, April 20, Senators Patty Murray and Richard Burr and Congressmen Jeff Miller and Bob Filner, Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Veterans' Affairs Committees in the Senate and House, sent a letter to President Obama asking for his assistance in expediting health care for the many veterans and family members who are sick as a result of exposure to well-water contaminated by human carcinogens at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
VA Secretary Shinseki indicated in a letter to Congressman Miller that policy decisions must be postponed until more scientific evidence is revealed linking water contamination at Camp Lejeune to illness. The Chairmen and Ranking Members believe that there is already sufficient evidence to give veterans and family members the benefit of the doubt, including the EPA's acknowledgement that trichloroethylene (TCE), a chemical which contaminated the water supply system at Camp Lejeune, is directly linked to cancer.
Senators Murray and Burr and Congressmen Miller and Filner will continue their bipartisan efforts to advance legislation to provide health care services to the veterans and family members who have suffered health consequences due to no fault of their own. They hope to expedite these efforts, however, by working with the Administration to identify existing funds and resources that may be reallocated to pay for the cost.
The Honorable Barack Obama
President ofthe United States
The White House
Dear Mr. President:
As the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Veterans' Affairs Committees in the House and
Senate, we are now engaged in an effort to advance legislation authorizing health care for
veterans and family members who are ill as result of being exposed to contaminated drinking
water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune from approximately 1957 to 1987. To date, that
effort has been slowed by the difficulty of identifying existing resources that could be better used
on health care services for those affected by possibly the worst example of water contamination
in our nation's history.
ln your Administration's Fiscal Year 2013 budget request, it was revealed that the Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA) overestimated health care resource requirements. VA has identified
multiple areas within existing initiatives to reallocate appropriated funds based on the revised
estimates. We ask that a portion of those fturds, or other funds you can identify which can be
repurposed, be reserved to provide care for sick Camp Lejeune veterans and family members.
In a recent letter responding to a similar call from Chairman Miller, VA Secretary Shinseki
suggested that policy decisions affecting those exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune
were "premature," and that scientific studies expected to be delivered over the next two years
would provide better guidance. Mr. President, we respectfully disagree. There is enough
scientific evidence already that warrants giving the benefit of the doubt to those who need help
We will continue our efforts to advance legislation, but we can expedite health care services to
sick veterans if we coordinated our efforts. VA has existing resources which could be reserved
without derailing other initiatives; we will work the legislative process to complement what VA
can do on its own authority. Only by working together, on a bipartisan basis, can we have the
biggest impact on the lives of those who have already waited long enough.
We look forward to your response, and thank you for your commitment to our nation's veterans.