Washington, D.C. – President Obama signed into law today the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act, which will provide essential health benefits to veterans and their families who were made ill by contaminated drinking water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
“For decades, the victims of this tragedy waited to receive the proper care they deserved,” said Heather White, chief of staff and general counsel of the Environmental Working Group, who was at the White House for the signing ceremony. “We celebrate those who made this day possible – concerned citizens, our champions in Congress and a father devoted to carrying on the memory of his daughter – even as we remember those who did not live to see justice achieved. This bill honors their sacrifice.”
EWG actively advocated for the government to provide appropriate care to the thousands of affected military families.
The new law provides hospital care and medical services through the Department of Veterans Affairs to those who developed illnesses linked to their exposures to a host of toxic chemicals in the base’s drinking water, including carcinogens benzene, vinyl chloride and trichloroethylene.
Camp Lejeune’s water contamination is considered one of the worst cases in U.S. history. Almost 80 men who lived or were born on the base have been diagnosed with male breast cancer, a rare disease.
Passage of the law was due in large part to the leadership of Reps. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) and John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), who championed the cause of Camp Lejeune’s veterans and families for years. EWG thanks them and their staffs for their dedication and hard work.
“Republicans and Democrats came together to pass this historic legislation, which will help tens of thousands of our military families who have suffered as a result of being exposed to these highly toxic chemicals,” said EWG Policy Associate Alex Rindler, who worked for passage of the bill. “Protecting the lives of those who give so much for the rest of us should always be a top priority of our elected leaders, and today’s action by President Obama on this bi-partisan proposal is a shining example of that commitment.”
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