The Department of Defense (DoD) refuses to accept responsibility for the effects of veterans and dependents exposed to environmental hazards on military installations. There are currently two bills focusing on providing health care coverage for those exposed; one bill is in the Senate and one bill is in the House.
Camp Lejeune’s problems with contaminated water have certainly been well documented lately, but they are not the only base that has been afflicted with environmental hazards. Trichloroethylene is a military degreaser, it pollutes water systems throughout the U.S., and it is currently contaminating 1,400 military sites. The National Priority List (EPA Superfund list) contains 130 military installations.
The two bills currently introduced both have the ultimate goal of providing much required health care, but there are marked differences between the two. The Senate bill:
- Includes environmental hazards at all military installations except Iraq and Afghanistan; and
- Requires the DoD provide health car through its TRICARE insurance program.
The House bill on the other hand,
- Includes environmental hazards solely at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; and
- Gives the VA the responsibility of covering health care for both veterans and dependents.
The Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs (SCVA) voted on January 28th to pass a bill sponsored by Senator Daniel Akaka (D- HI). The bill requires compensation or health care be given to any veterans and dependents exposed to environmental hazards (as determined by an Advisory Board) through the DoD’s TRICARE program. This will not however, cover exposure at a military installation when imminent danger pay has been authorized. The bill will be placed on the Senate’s calendar to be put to a vote.
The next couple months should be interesting ones between the House and the Senate both vying to pass their own bills.
Learn more about Senator Akaka’s bill as well as the other bills introduced to ensure proper veteran health care for exposure to toxic environmental hazards.
If you are a veteran who has been denied disability compensation by the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. We can appeal your rating decision and fight for your rights. You are entitled to certain programs and benefits based upon your VA rating decision so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.