Veterans express frustration to VA over Camp Lejeune benefits

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ZACK WITTMAN | Times Camp Lejeune veterans and community members listen to epidemiologists discuss tainted water at the base during a panel hosted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
 ZACK WITTMAN | Times Camp Lejeune veterans and community members listen to epidemiologists discuss tainted water at the base during a panel hosted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

ZACK WITTMAN | Times
Camp Lejeune veterans and community members listen to epidemiologists discuss tainted water at the base during a panel hosted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

TAMPA — Robert Shuster of Hudson stood up Saturday at a public meeting with the Department of Veterans Affairs and federal scientists studying the health effects of polluted drinking at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

He held up two pieces of paper. One was the surgical pathology report Shuster sent to the VA that diagnosed him with sarcoma. The other document was a letter from the VA denying his claim for benefits, saying in stilted language the disease did not exist in him — he didn’t have a malignancy.

“How can it not exist?” Shuster, 54, asked plaintively.

About 150 Marine Corps veterans and family members crowded a room at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay for a town hall meeting to hear VA officials and federal scientists provide an update on work studying contamination at the North Carolina base.

The VA representatives heard great frustration from veterans about their difficulties in getting the agency to provide benefits for those who were sickened by the water.

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