JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A new lawsuit aims to get Camp Lejeune veterans answers about why they’re being denied benefits despite evidence and research about diseases from the toxic water they drank while on base.
The lawsuit comes years after the CDC confirmed cancer, and other diseases, were linked to the water on base from the 50’s to the 80’s.
The VA Department has released in the past year more cancers that could qualify veterans for benefits, but the lawsuit says thousands of veterans are still being turned down.
“None of us ever expected that they were going to poison us right here in the United States by our own leaders who knew it and then tried to hide it,” said retired MSGT. Jerry Ensminger, Founder of The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten. That’s how he feels about the time he and his family were stationed at Camp Lejeune.
He’s one of more than a million people at Camp Lejeune who the CDC says were exposed to cancer-causing chemicals on base decades ago. Ensminger’s own daughter died as a result of drinking water contaminated by nearly 150-times the legal limit.
The Yale Law School Veterans Legal Service Team want to help get answers.
Back in November, the team went through proper procedure to get records on the VA Department’s health experts responsible for creating reports used to decide whether a veteran will be approved or denied benefit claims. But the team said the VA hasn’t made good on deadlines. , “The VA has failed to produce a single responsive record or even provide an official response as required by statute,” said Helen White with the legal team at Yale.
“The VA has failed to produce a single responsive record or even provide an official response as required by statute,” said Helen White with the legal team at Yale.
On Wednesday, the Yale Legal Team filed a lawsuit against the VA on behalf of veteran organizations wanting to get records on the government experts.
“These people are making life and death decisions on veterans claims and yet the veterans don’t have the right to know what the qualifications are of these people,” said Ensminger.
As for others involved in the new legal case, they say the VA is hiding behind a curtain that is unacceptable and it’s time they step up to the plate.
“The VA’s failure to respond to our FOIA request is just the latest link in a long chain of foot-dragging and misdirection in response to inquiries about the SME program,” said Rory Minnis, a member of the legal team.
The group filed the suit in Connecticut district court.
WNCT reached out the VA Department. So far, they’ve yet to comment back.