One million Marines and their families stationed at Camp Lejeune seek justice

About a million US Marines and their families were poisoned by contaminated water while at Camp LeJeune, and now they are seeking justice.

Water at the Marine Corps camp in Jacksonville, North Carolinait was found to be contaminated with benzene, trichlorethylene and perchlorethylene in the 1980s.

Since then, the residents of the base have experienced severe negative side effects such as cancer, kidney toxicity, and Parkinson’s disease. myeloma and more.

By law, members of the military are not allowed to sue the US military, but a bill currently moving through Congress could open the door to allowing them to receive compensation.

Nearly one million former veterans and their families suffered serious adverse health effects after coming into contact with contaminated water while at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina (file photo)

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021, introduced last year by Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Pennsylvania Democrat, would allow base residents to sue the government for damages within three decades.

The bill has many supporters, including John Berry, a former US Army soldier and current head of Berry Law, a firm that represents veterans in cases against the Department of Veterans Affairs.

He told that the problem was known as early as the 1970s and that the military had failed to protect military personnel.

“Back in the 70s, people knew there was a problem,” he explained.

“The Marines and their families didn’t know they were in danger, and especially the Marines who went overseas in the hope that the government would take care of their families.”

“Instead, just the opposite happened. Their families were exposed to harmful chemicals due to water pollution and they had no idea.”

John Berry (pictured), head of Berry Law, represents the veterans and their families who were at Camp Lejeune when the base's water was contaminated.

John Berry (pictured), head of Berry Law, represents the veterans and their families who were at Camp Lejeune when the base’s water was contaminated.

Many will later develop catastrophic health defects and learn that they were the result of government negligence.

But it was almost impossible to get compensation. While injuries sustained in the line of duty will be covered by disability benefits, obtaining compensation in such a case would require a negligence lawsuit.

However, this is not possible. The 1950 Supreme Court case Feres v. United States set the precedent that members of the military were not allowed to file suit against the government.

While the federal government is unlikely to completely waive immunity from lawsuits, HR 2192, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, may give these specific victims some reprieve.

As momentum builds around this bill, Berry says the mission to protect veterans and their loved ones goes way beyond one camp in North Carolina.

“There are other times [this has happened]“There are other hotspots that we have heard about that may or may not be addressed,” he said.

“There are other military bases where there were similar chemicals, improperly disposed of, which could contaminate the water.

‘I think that it’s [bill] going to raise awareness and hopefully prevent this from happening again in the future.”

As a veteran, he says the government’s concern for those who have served is his priority.

“It is expected that when you finish [serving]“The government will take care of you,” he added.

“If you get injured on the job or fall ill on the job, the government will take care of you. This is a deal. This is the point. And we must hold our government to account.”