Today, U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, announced that the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, a bill that improves services and care for veterans and includes a bill he wrote, the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act, passed the Senate unanimously.
This legislation will require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide health care to veterans and their family members who have certain diseases and conditions as a result of exposure to well-water contaminated by human carcinogens at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
"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 will provide," Senator Burr said. "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. I am encouraged that the House will pass this bill quickly and it will go to the President's desk for his signature."
An estimated 750,000 people may have been exposed to probable and known human carcinogens in the base's water supply between the 1950s and 1980s. To date, this is the largest recorded environmental incident on a domestic Department of Defense installation.
Also included in the bill was a proposal Senator Burr authored that will address the backlog of veterans' benefits claims by authorizing retroactive effective date for awards of disability compensation for applications that are fully-developed at submittal.