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Red Tape Frustrates Sick Vets

Frustration over lost documents and denied claims continues for Floridians who blame cancers and other disease on contaminated water at the U.S. Marine base at Camp Lejeune, N.C. decades ago.

A 2012 federal law was supposed to compensate veterans and their survivors with 15 illnesses and conditions linked to their time serving at the base. But that hasn’t reduced a massive backlog or repeated denials for many veterans or their surviving spouses, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.

Englewood resident Cheryl Baillargeon told the Herald-Tribune that the VA has lost her original claim that the base was linked to her husband’s kidney cancer and death. Calls to a rejection-letter hotline have been unanswered, she said.

Sarasota resident and seven-year Marine veteran Jim Doner, who has been diagnosed with bladder, colon and prostate cancer, said he continues to have claims rejected.  

More than 19,000 Florida residents have signed on to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease’s Camp Lejeune registry. As many as 1 million people are suspected of ingesting contaminated water at the base between 1957 and 1987, according to the Herald-Tribune.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.