Veteranclaims’s Blog

December 11, 2010

Camp Lejeune Claims to be Tracked and Processed by VA at Central Location

Filed under: Uncategorized — veteranclaims @ 12:13 am

However, there are no plans to revisit past claim denials

Full article at: VA to begin tracking Lejeune water claims
December 09, 2010 9:50 PM

Officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs told members of a community assistance panel addressing issues surrounding historical water contamination at Camp Lejeune that related disability claims would soon be processed at a central location.

Brad Flohr, with the Veterans Benefits Administration Compensation and Pension Service Department, told the group on Thursday that all the Lejeune water claims would be sent to the VA center in Louisville, Ky., as a way to track the cases and keep the procedure for handling them consistent.

Lejeune veterans and former residents who lived aboard the base between the 1950s and 1980s and attribute ailments like male breast cancer and non-Hodgkins lymphoma to chemical contaminants in the water have advocated for a VA presumptive policy on water cases, similar to that governing exposure to the Vietnam-era chemical Agent Orange.

Standing athwart has been a 2009 report by the National Research Council that concluded there was insufficient evidence linking the presence of volatile organic compounds in the base drinking water to disease, and further testing was unlikely to yield clearer results.

But an October letter from Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry director Chris Portier refuted this conclusion, calling Lejeune water “undoubtedly a hazard” and faulting the study for insufficient consideration of the known carcinogen benzene and too-low exposure estimates.

Flohr told the group at ATSDR’s quarterly CAP meeting in September that about 200 Lejeune veterans had filed water-related disability claims to date, 20 of which had been approved.

“The leadership staff, including myself, are concerned with consistency,” Flohr told the group on Thursday. “Consistency is an issue that is of great concern to our stakeholders.”

In the interest of ensuring that all Lejeune claims are reviewed the same way, Flohr said he planned a visit to the Louisville center to educate staff on the history of the contamination and to encourage them to treat the claim applications with care and good judgment.

“We want to sensitize these people to the issue, to let these people know how sensitive it is and your concerns,” Flohr said. “It’s going to be of utmost importance that people who process the claims know what evidence is needed.”

While water claims have been decided on an isolated basis with no tracking mechanism, Flohr said the VA planned to begin tracking all related claims in February with an electronic system, including an indicator of the decision on the claim.

However, there are no plans to revisit past claim denials, Flohr said.”

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