Hundreds of thousands of military families nationwide, and right here in Jacksonville, are suffering because of conditions at one training camp.
You may have seen the ads running on TV right now over lawsuits involving the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
It may be an issue you only see on TV, but many people are facing it in real life, like Lynn Rafferty.
“Trying to get the word out, trying to get some relief, trying to get some justice for what our families have gone through,” Rafferty said.
Rafferty’s husband Brian was diagnosed with leukemia in 2013 and later passed away in 2016. He was also diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome as a result of chemotherapy.
A number of diseases and defects have been linked to those who drank the contaminated water, including:
Leukemia (all types);
Central nervous system cancer (brain or spinal cord);
Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma);
Rafferty said Brian was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He was there for training in 1972 and then again for two years between 1974 and 1975.
In 1980, the U.S. government found the groundwater contained several dangerous chemicals. Testing led to the discovery of these contaminants:
Vinyl chloride (VC).
All are known to be harmful to humans.
Under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, which is part of the Honoring our PACT Act, Rafferty and many more would be able to file a claim for financial damages.
In order to qualify for the money, you must have lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 cumulative days between Aug. 1, 1953 through Dec. 31, 1987.
“If you know of families that have been affected by it, don’t stick it under a rock — bring it forward and show that it is truly something that happened,” Rafferty said.
However, the bill is still bouncing between the House and Senate.
On Wednesday, the Senate blocked the bill.
Luckly for veterans, attorney Nick LaFountain of Farah & Farah said the bill is not dead by any means, but it does delay the process.
“Meanwhile, we have Marine Corps veterans, and veterans in general, who continue to suffer and die as they wait for health care,” LaFountain said,
LaFountain is part of the team representing Rafferty. He was based in Camp Lejeune for part of 1989 and 1990.
He said he hopes the House and Senate come to terms so fellow Marines get the help they need.
“The fight’s not over. It’s just starting for us,” LaFountain said.
No claims can be filed until after the bill is signed into law.
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