ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. (WFLA) – Joe Zambito of Zephyrhills is like many other former Marines. He was exposed to cancer-causing chemicals right here on U.S. soil. He and his wife fought a losing battle with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, that is until, he called 8 On Your Side.
“It was just a fight all the way through,” Joe said. In this fight there were no bombs or bullets, just a desperate struggle between Marines and the Department of Veterans Affairs over medical and disability benefits for exposure to toxic water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Following a series of 8 On Your Side reports that began in December, Joe and Judy Zambito finally received word they’d won the battle they’ve waged with the VA since 2012. Joe will receive 100 percent medical and disability benefits.
“You have no idea how big, much of a relief it is to not worry about any of that stuff anymore,” Judy said.
From 1953 to 1987, nearly one million Marines, their family members and civilian employees were exposed to cancer-causing chemicals from Camp Lejeune’s water supply.
Last year we told you, Joe joined the Marines in 1964. He’s lost both kidneys and his bladder to cancer. “Dialysis three times a week, four hours at a session,” he pointed out.
“Our life revolves around dialysis now,” Judy said. The VA decided in 2012 that Joe’s kidney cancer was not related to Camp Lejuene. His bladder cancer was, though. The VA denied Joe benefits, claiming since his bladder was gone, so was his cancer. 8 On Your Side took this flawed reasoning to US Senator Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
“This is illogical. It’s idiotic that, that a veteran would get an answer like that,” Senator Nelson said. Nelson’s office looked into Joe’s case. The VA just reversed itself. Joe is entitled to medical, disability and more.
“Without you and Senator Nelson, we wouldn’t be where we are now,” Judy explained. The benefits will make quite a difference. For Joe and Judy, this fight is over.
“Just want to know how to thank you, that’s all I can say,” Joe said.
“We thank you a lot,” Judy added.
- Sen. Nelson: VA’s Camp Lejeune decision ‘idiotic’
- Zephyrhills Marine loses kidneys V.A. denies claim
- Benefits expanded for Camp Lejeune veterans
- Family leery of VA promises to Camp Lejeune victims
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