Greensboro, NC — A former Camp Lejeune marine who was exposed to toxins in the base’s drinking water told his story Monday night at UNCG.
Jerry Ensminger, a master sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, along with his family, was exposed to contaminated drinking water while living at Camp Lejeune. His daughter died from leukemia, which was believed to have been caused by the drinking water, at age 9.
Ensminger has been advocating for justice for families like his since initial reports about Camp Lejeune’s dangerous water in 1997.
President Barack Obama recently signed the Janey Ensminger Act, which provides medical care to families exposed to the water on the base.
Ensminger was at UNCG Monday for a screening of “Semper Fi: Always Faithful,” a documentary about his story.
News 2 sat down with Ensminger before the screening to talk about the documentary and his advocacy for other affected families.
Take a look at what he had to say in this video.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination
Description by VA Healthcare
During the 1950s through the mid-1980s, people living or working at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina were potentially exposed to drinking water contaminated with chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including industrial solvents and components of fuels.
VA has been monitoring the scientific and medical evidence closely. At this time, the evidence is not sufficient to determine a link between service at Camp Lejeune during this time period and an increased risk of developing diseases, including certain types of cancer.
Until recently, special health care benefits through VA were not available for Camp Lejeune Veterans or Family Members. On August 6, 2012, President Obama signed into law the “Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012.” For Camp Lejeune Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune between 1957 and 1987, this law provides VA health care for 15 medical conditions. Health care may also be provided for Family Members for these conditions, once Congress appropriates funds and new regulations are published.[toggle title=”Illnesses or Conditions” height=”auto”]
The new law requires VA to provide health care for the following illnesses or conditions:
To be eligible for care under this law, the Veteran must have served on active duty at Camp Lejeune for not fewer than 30 days between January 1, 1957 and December 31, 1987.
Veterans who are eligible for care under the Camp Lejeune authority, regardless of current enrollment status with VA, will not be charged a copayment for health care related to the above illnesses or conditions, nor will a third party insurance company be billed for these services. Copayments for care unrelated to the above illnesses or conditions may be applicable.
Congress must first appropriate funds in order for Family Members to receive health care through the VA. Once funds are available and federal regulations are published, a Family Member must show documentation of their relationship to the Veteran who served at Camp Lejeune (i.e., marriage license or birth certificate), proof of residency for a period of not less than 30 days at Camp Lejeune between January 1, 1957 and December 31, 1987 (i.e., copies of orders, base housing records, etc.), and information demonstrating that all other health insurance possibilities have been exhausted.
If you are concerned about possible adverse health effects from exposure to contaminated water while working or living at Camp Lejeune between the years 1957 to 1987, please contact your health care provider.
Veterans and family members may obtain more information from their nearest VA health facility which may be located by calling 1–877–222–VETS (8387) or visiting www.va.gov/directory.
Veteran disability claims:
If you believe you have health problems related to the water at Camp Lejeune, you may file a claim for disability compensation. These claims will be decided on a case-by-case basis. You can file for disability benefits online at www.ebenefits.va.gov, or contact your nearest VA Regional Office at 1–800–827–1000.
For further information: VHA Office of Public Health has a website on Camp Lejeune historical water contamination.
The US Marine Corps encourages all those who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune before 1987 to register to receive notifications regarding Camp Lejeune