(SALEM, OR) – BETRAYAL chronicles the story of the thousands of veterans and their families, once stationed at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro and Camp Lejeune, who have continued to be ignored by the U.S. government by denial of the effects of exposure to environmental hazards, including the highest incidence of male breast cancer in any other demographic in the U.S. at Camp Lejeune. Legislation to provide VA health care for 15 medical conditions for Camp Lejeune veterans and their dependents was passed in the 112th Congress. No VA presumptive disability compensation was included in the Janey Ensminger Act.
The story includes the story of the murder of Marine Colonel James E. Sabow and others whose deaths have been linked to the use of El Toro’s assets during the 1980s and 1990s to import South American cocaine into the U.S and to export weapons to the Contra Rebel faction of Nicaragua. The usurp in cocaine into the US laid the foundation for the crack epidemic and the deaths of thousands of minorities. The circumstances surrounding Colonel Sabow’s death and the forensic evidence support murder by a government assassination team and cover-up, including a ‘doctored autopsy photograph’ submitted by the Defense Department to Congress in 2004; a 2010 bungled cold case investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS); eye witnesses to the unexpected intrusion of three strangers with government credentials who cleared the crime scene of Marine MPs and NIS agents and the opinion of the supervising attorney in the Orange County District Attorney’s Homicide Trial Division who reported that “Colonel Sabow’s death could not have been a suicide but had to have been a homicide inflicted by the hands of another.” Both the US Attorney General and the California Attorney General denied jurisdiction to investigate the murder; the murder was classified as a suicide one day after the death.
The book reports the destruction of environmental records and the denial of responsibility and the cover-up to hide the truth of environmental contamination from veterans, their dependents, civilian workers, and the public at MCAS El Toro, once the premier Marine Corps jet fighter base.
The story covers the contamination of Camp Lejeune’s water wells (1953-1987), the Marine Corps’ ongoing efforts to dodge responsibility for injuries and deaths from the contaminated wells, even after Congressional hearings, reams of documentation supporting the contamination and scientific evidence linking ingestion of organic solvents to cancers and other serious illnesses.
The Supreme Court’s Feres doctrine bars veterans from filing tort claims, but their dependents and civilian workers are free to do so. This may be the raison d’etre for the Navy and Marine Corps’ refusal to accept responsibility for injuries from Camp Lejeune’s contaminated wells. A successful Camp Lejeune tort claim may be the proverbial Pandora box, opening the door to many who were exposed to environmental hazards at the 130 military installation that are EPA Superfund sites.
The VA needs scientists with backgrounds in environmental exposure or environmental exposure assessments, health monitoring, or other relevant fields to accurately assess the risks of environmental exposure.
The VA’s regional office lack the scientific expertise to evaluate chemical toxic disability claim from veterans.
Those who served on military installations that are EPA Superfunds and at hazardous military sites in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere are at a higher risk of exposure to harmful chemicals and other hazards than other Americans. The long history of the fight for medical health care for Camp Lejeune Marines, sailors and their dependents left an untold number dead. That is a tragedy that must not be repeated. Those who were injured from hazardous agents in military service deserve no less.
Congress can provide the authority and funding to establish a Science Advisory Board within the VA to evaluate the risks of environmental exposure at the over one hundred military installations on the EPA Superfund database and elsewhere where U.S. military personnel were exposed to environmental hazards.