I read with great interest the guest column by John Stewart regarding exposure to burn pits of our military personnel. Let us not forget you don’t have to go overseas for exposures to toxins while serving in the military. During the years 1953-1987, the wellwater at Camp Lejeune was saturated with the toxic chemicals TCE, DCE, PCE, vinyl chloride, and benzene. For over three decades, base commanders, the U.S. government, and the Department of the Navy were aware of this toxic brew, yet said nothing until many years later. Nine-hundred thousand Marines and sailors were exposed via ingestion, inhalation and dermal contact. According to internal VA documents, 400,000 of these service members are already dead and 500,000 have a higher mortality rate than the general population.

The claims filed for these toxic exposures are being adjudicated by Department of Veterans Affairs anonymous subject matter experts, and they are being denied at a 92% rate. Certain health care benefits have been extended to these exposed veterans, and a very short list of presumptive health conditions have been linked to these toxic exposures by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many more health conditions are being left off the list and the VA is placing huge challenges and obstacles on the claims of these veterans, who were essentially used as guinea pigs by their own government. In another generation most of these veterans will have died. Perhaps that is what politicians and the VA is waiting for. It is a disgrace.

Patrick Shipman

Beverly Hills

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