Families learn about filing claims related to Camp Lejeune’s toxic water at VFW town hall meeting

Families learn about filing claims related to Camp Lejeune’s toxic water at VFW town hall meeting
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 11:11 PM EST
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HOLLY RIDGE, N.C. (WECT) - For thirty years, families at Camp Lejeune were exposed to toxic water resulting in countless medical ailments. Now, thanks to the PACT Act, they can get help from the government to address those issues.

“It means that you’re not forgotten because there’s people out there that care,” said Maria Colemenares, moved to tears after Tuesday’s meeting in Holly Ridge.

Colemenares learned she may be able to get help for medical conditions she claims developed after living at Camp Lejeune for two months.

“We didn’t notice a strong smell,” said Colmenares. “We bathed in it, we washed with it, rinsed our tools with it and all that.”

“She suffers from Parkinson’s disease,” explained Colmenares’s son, Tony. “I have high blood pressure and some other illnesses that was all Lejeune when she was there.”

During the town hall meeting, the Colmenares got their questions answered and even found out that Tony and his siblings, who spent part of their childhood on base, may get help for their medical conditions.

“Anybody who was at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, who consumed that water for 30 days or more, they’re eligible to file for that claim as long as they’ve got a condition that’s been diagnosed,” said Jason Johns, chair of BMBFC Law’s Military Advisory Board.

For Johns, letting people know there is help means everything.

“We put the uniform on, we know there’s a risk -- whether it’s exposure to something, death at the hand of an enemy. We also hope that our government will take care of us, the VA’s going to take care of us when we have those injuries,” said Johns. “For our families, they don’t always have that.”

The Colmenares family left the meeting comforted, knowing they’re not alone.

“Glad we stumbled across this little town meeting,” said Tony. “Both of us aren’t members of the VFW but I’m going to be a member now.”