Sen. Nelson: VA’s Camp Lejeune decision ‘idiotic’

Drinking and bathing in toxic water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina has caused medical nightmares for countless Marines and their families.

“They’re losing major organs from their body, they’re dying, and it seems like they don’t care,” Judy Zambito said. Judy’s husband Joe is a former Marine, stationed at Camp Lejeune. Joe lost his right kidney to cancer in 1999. He lost his bladder then his left kidney to cancer in 2010.

“So his life now is to live the rest of his life on dialysis,” Judy explained. The Zambitos learned about Camp Lejeune contamination from the news. When Joe went to the VA to be evaluated in 2012, Judy points out that he was never seen by a VA doctor.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry ties kidney and several other cancers to the Camp Lejeune water contamination. But in Joe’s case, the VA didn’t. Records show Joe’s private doctors were not consulted nor were his private medical records reviewed. Nonetheless, the VA determined his kidney cancer was not connected to Camp Lejeune, but his bladder cancer was.

“If you got cancer in the kidney, it’s going to go down to the bladder,” Joe pointed out. “It makes me very angry.”  Then the V.A. rejected Joe’s claim for

Then the VA rejected Joe’s claim for service-connected disability benefits because it told him his bladder cancer was in remission. His bladder is gone.

“You tell that Marine to contact me, and he won’t have a bit of trouble after that,” US Sen. Bill Nelson, from Florida, said. After reading through Joe’s case notes, 8 On Your Side shared his story with Sen. Nelson.

“This is illogical. It’s idiotic that that veteran would get an answer like that,” Nelson added. Judy and Joe think so too, and welcome an ally in their battle against the VA and the clock.

If you or someone you know is a Marine who spent 30 days or more at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987, go here for information about health care and benefits. You can also call (877) 222-8387 for information about health care and (800) 827-1000 for information about benefits. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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