Sick Marines receive expanded benefits, but families get nothing

(WFLA) – The Department of Veterans Affairs has agreed to provide expanded benefits to Marines who became sick from chemically contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.

But, those benefits only go to Marines who develop one of only eight diseases that the V.A. believes are caused by the water tied to the Camp Lejeune contamination.

Bennie Campbell
Bennie Campbell

The diseases are:
– Adult Leukemia
–  Aplastic Anemia
–  Bladder Cancer
– Kidney Cancer
– Liver Cancer
– Multiple Myeloma
– Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
– Parkinson’s Disease

But, there are a lot of Marines and civilians who are still on the outside looking in.

Bennie Campbell of Clair-Mel is one of them.

To Bennie, “Semper Fidelis,” or always faithful, means something special.

He knows becoming a Marine was the best thing that happened to him.  He knows the exact date he enlisted.

“February, ’76, on the 28th,” recalled Campbell.

He knows exactly how long he was in the Marine Corps.

“Seven years, five months and two days,” he said.

Bennie Campbell also knows he did two tours at Camp Lejeune, one from 1977-79, the second 1981-83.

He did not know he was exposed to cancer-causing water that he drank, bathed in and cooked with.

“We didn’t know nothing, sir,” explained Campbell. “I lived in base housing. Me, my wife and my two sons.”

At only 61, he now lives on Social Security Disability.   He suffers from a host of health problems.

None of them the V.A. connects to Camp Lejeune, at least not yet.

New rules just adopted by the V.A. will provide medical coverage for Marines who spent 30 days at Lejeune, between 1953 to 1987 and developed those eight diseases.

If veterans like Joe Zambito become disabled, the V.A. will automatically provide disability benefits.

That would have saved Zambito a lot of stress.  He developed kidney and bladder cancers.  His kidneys and bladder were removed, leaving him to survive on dialysis three days a week.

The V.A. denied Zambito disability benefits, because it said since his bladder was removed, he had no cancer and he wasn’t disabled.

Last year, Target 8 profiled Zambito’s case.  The V.A. then granted him full disability.

Zambito died shortly after he and his wife received benefits.

The V.A. will also provide benefits to Reserve and National Guard members who were at Camp Lejeune for 30 or more days during that time period.

It’s estimated that the cost of the expanded benefits be $2.2 billion dollars over a five year period.

The new rules provided for Marines do not include dependents like Bennie Campbell’s wife and two sons.

“Good God almighty, I’m worrying about me, and I’m worried about my wife and my two sons,” he said.

To Bennie Campbell, “Semper FideIis” is a motto the V.A. and bureaucrats in Washington D.C. should abide by as well.

If you have a problem you want investigated call our Target 8 Helpline at 1-800-338-0808.

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