BURGAW, N.C. (WNCT) – Camp Lejeune’s water was contaminated by dozens of chemicals between the early 50’s to 80’s. It’s a story 9 On Your Side has been following for years.
Fighting for nearly two decades after his daughter passed away from exposure to toxic water aboard Camp Lejeune, retired Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger says he still fights not only for her, but for others affected as well.
“I started thinking about it shortly after the shock wore off and I thought, my God, what about all the other people that had been through Camp Lejeune that are now literally spread out all over the country, or all over the world,” explained Jerry Ensminger.
The Department of Veteran Affairs announced a plan to expand coverage for victims of the toxic water aboard the base.
The VA amended regulations for those affected after government tests proved contamination in the water between the 50’s and the 80’s.
Now, the VA will add to the already 15 conditions they reimburse, including conditions like kidney cancer.
Onslow County Veteran Services Director Amelia Grissett says the VA will now grant presumptive disability status.
“They would go on ahead and award the veteran if he had a diagnosis of a condition rather than having to take the claim and prove the condition was related,” explained Amelia Grissett, Director, Onslow County Veteran Services. “It’s what we call a presumptive condition.”
Veterans who claim they were affected by the toxic water will now receive benefits as long as they meet certain requirements.
But Ensminger wants more.
“The fact that I spent 25 years of my life carrying the torch for this organization, known as the Marine Corps and to see how they betrayed their own people, how they tried to hide and cover up information that was beneficial to people’s help, that’s the flame,” said Ensminger.
Ensminger says he’ll continue the fight and despite the progress he’s made in 18 years. He still thinks of his beloved child he lost. He says a meeting will be held August 19th in Atlanta between the VA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to take the next steps in continuing the fight.