By Sandra Basu
WASHINGTON — The VA is beginning the process of amending its regulations to establish presumptive-disability status for veterans who have certain diseases linked to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune.
By establishing presumptive status, it is presumed that the disease was caused by service, making it easier for veterans to obtain disability benefits.
In a recent announcement, the VA said it is reviewing potential presumptive service connection for kidney cancer, angiosarcoma of the liver and acute myelogenous leukemia, which it said “are known to be related to long-term exposure to the chemicals that were in the water at Lejeune from the 1950s through 1987.”
“The chemicals are benzene, vinyl chloride, trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene, which are known as volatile organic compounds, used in industrial solvents and components of fuels,” the agency explained. (For more on Camp Lejeune and cancer, see the Oncology Focus on page xx.)
Working with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and potentially the National Academy of Sciences “to evaluate the body of scientific knowledge and research related to exposure to these chemicals and the subsequent development of other diseases,” adding, “VA will carefully consider all public comments received when determining the final scope of any presumptions,” the VA explained.