Between the 1950s and the 1980s, the U.S. government provided Marines and their families staying at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina with contaminated tap water. The harmful chemicals in the water vastly exceeded safety standards. Some chemicals were at 240 times the permitted level; others were as much as 3,400 times what is considered a safe level. This exposure likely increased the chance of these Marines and their families contracting cancer and other deadly diseases.
The recent passage of the PACT Act will allow these veterans and their families access to compensation through the Federal Tort Claims Act.
What does the PACT Act do?
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.), the PACT Act will bring the following changes:
Expands and extends eligibility for V.A. health care for Veterans with toxic exposures and Veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras.
Adds more than 20 new presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures.
Adds more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation.
Requires VA to provide a toxic exposure screening to every Veteran enrolled in V.A. health care.
Helps the V.A. improve research, staff education, and treatment related to toxic exposures. New illnesses identified as presumptive conditions — meaning likely caused by one’s military service — include a dozen cancers (Brain, Gastrointestinal, Glioblastoma, Head, Kidney, Lymphatic, Lymphoma, Melanoma, Neck, Pancreatic, Reproductive, and Respiratory) as well as asthma that was diagnosed after service, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic rhinitis, chronic sinusitis, constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis, emphysema, granulomatous disease, interstitial lung disease (I.L.D.), pleuritis, pulmonary fibrosis, and sarcoidosis.
If a veteran’s application for compensation for one of these was denied before the PACT Act’s passage, the V.A. recommends filing a supplemental claim to restart the process under the new legislation.
More information regarding the PACT Act and other aspects of veteran compensation are available online at VA.gov.