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North Carolina senator demands action for veterans impacted at Camp Lejeune

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(The Center Square) – U.S. Sen. Ted Budd is again demanding action for veterans impacted by exposure to toxic water at Camp Lejeune.

Budd, R-N.C., took to the Senate floor on Thursday to call out the Department of Justice and U.S. Navy for delays in processing veterans’ claims for various health challenges related to the exposure, which have ranged from deadly cancers to Parkinson’s Disease.

The issue impacts over 70,000 veterans who served at the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in Jacksonville between 1953 and 1987, as well as their families who drank, bathed and cooked with water contaminated with industrial solvents, benzene, and other chemicals. Budd backed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act last year to allow veterans who are suffering to receive damages and become eligible for care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“However, after nearly a year, not a single claim has been processed,” Budd said Thursday. “It is unacceptable that the Navy and the DOJ have failed to process any of these claims and have failed to deliver a plan or strategy for doing so.”

Budd’s comments followed a letter to the respective offices of the Secretary of the Navy and the Attorney General in May signed by Budd, Sen. Thom Tills, R-N.C., and other lawmakers from both parties that noted “over 45,000 claims have been filed since enactment (of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act)” with no action from the Navy to resolve them.

“Additionally, reports indicate over 900 lawsuits have been filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina, which is allowed only after the Navy has failed to provide a final disposition of the claim within 180 days,” the letter read. “Reports also suggest that many of those filing claims are elderly and/or have adverse health conditions and a growing number have died without seeing a resolution in their case.”

The letter urged federal officials to “move quickly to adjudicate or settle these cases in a transparent, efficient manner,” and demanded answers on how the Navy and DOJ plan to do that.

Budd said Thursday the Navy’s response to the letter “was wholly inadequate” and failed to answer critical questions or provide a timeline for responding to veterans.

“Each and every one of our veterans deserve to be treated with dignity and respect befitting their service to our nation,” Budd said on the Senate floor. “When they face health challenges related to their service at facilities like Camp Lejeune, their claims must be dealt with promptly and completely.

“The Navy and the DOJ have a responsibility to act, and I’m calling on these departments to do so now,” Budd said.

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