Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Veterans Celebrate Lejuene Bill

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Veterans everywhere are celebrating the passage of a bill that will give thousands of sick marine veterans and their families health care for illnesses contracted from decades of water contamination on Camp Lejeune.  On July 18th, led by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash), the Senate unanimously passed the bill and currently awaits the House’s approval.  Burr and Murray included the provision that sick veterans can only be denied if proven that the individuals illnesses were not caused by exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
The Camp Lejeune health care provision is part of a much larger bill called minibus. Minibus includes other provisions like expanding health care benefits for disabled veterans, improving the claims process and instituting additional programs to help homeless veterans.
Even with all of the additional benefits, arguably no veteran is celebrating this victory as much as Jerry Ensminger. The bill is named after Ensminger, a Marine Corps drill sergeant whose nine year-old daughter died of childhood leukemia. He is a major proponent of providing health care for sick Lejeune Veterans. He even started a petition on change.org urging congress and the VA to provide medical care for the affected veterans. His petition is very close to its goal of 150,000 signatures.
The bill still awaits passage in the house and final approval by the president. The bill will be presented to the house Tuesday, July 31st, but most likely will not be voted on until later in the week. However, if passed up to 750,000 sick Marine Veterans and their families stationed at Lejeune from Nov. 1957 to Feb. 1987 for at least 30 days will receive hospital care, medical services and nursing home care from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Read more about this bill in Amanda Wilcox’s article in the Jacksonville Daily News. 

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