WASHINGTON (WFLA) – Florida Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) along with their colleague, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) have put forth a bill that aims to provide medical care for veterans and their families who were poisoned at Camp Lejeune.
“For far too long, those stationed at Camp Lejeune and suffering from various cancers and diseases have been uncertain about their coverage. This is completely unacceptable. I am proud to stand on the side of veterans and support legislation that ensures those affected at Camp Lejeune get the care they need,” said Rubio in a statement.
Thousands of veterans were poisoned, in some cases fatally, by contaminated water at the Marine Corps base located in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
“The Veterans Administration continues to deny clear scientific links between debilitating diseases and exposure to certain toxic chemicals in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune,” said Burr. “The Janey Ensminger Act requires the VA to do the right thing and give veterans the medical care they need. The military negligently poisoned these service members and they shouldn’t have to fight the VA every time that government researchers find a link between a disease and the toxins that were in their drinking water.”
“We have a responsibility to care for those who have served our country and their families,” said Nelson. “The VA should be giving any veteran who was stationed at Camp Lejeune and now battling one of these scientifically-linked illnesses the benefit of the doubt.”
Under the new bill, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) would be required to stay up to date on relevant scientific literature to determine whether there are any links between toxic exposure at the camp and additional diseases and conditions so that affected families will not have to wait for medical research to get the care and resources they need.
The legislation is named after Janey Ensminger, the daughter of Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger, who spent ten years at the base and died as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals.
Earlier this month, the VA started compensating Camp Lejeune victims. Those who served at the base for over a month between 1953 and 1987 are now eligible to receive disability compensation if they were poisoned.
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