VA denies Camp Lejeuene widow cancer benefits for toxic drinking water

CLEVELAND - The widow of a deceased Ohio marine is continuing a protest outside veterans affairs offices nationwide after her husband's cancer failed to qualify for disability benefits stemming from toxic water at a Marine Corps training camp.

Tara Craver carried a "Camp Lejuene Widow" placard Monday outside the downtown Cleveland office of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Cravers' husband was stationed at Camp Lejeuene, North Carolina for three months of basic training in 1972 and died two years ago of esophageal cancer.

But since the late 1980's, the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry has been studying the human health risks for hazardous substance in drinking water at Camp Lejeuene.

ATSDR Assessment of the Evidence for the Drinking Water Contaminants at Camp Lejeune and Specific Cancers and Other Diseases 

Earlier this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs established a presumption of service connection for 8 diseases associated with contaminants in the water supply at the marine base.

It means that veterans whose conditions are included could be awarded disability benefits that total more than $2 million dollars.

But esophageal cancer did not make the list, excluding Craver and others from receiving compensation.

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates as many as 900,000 could be affected by toxic substances found in the drinking water from 1950 to 1985.

But in a statement said "there is not sufficient medical evidence" to warrant including esophageal cancer on the VA list of Camp Lejeune presumptive diseases.

Even so, the VA says veterans who have a condition they believe was caused by exposure to contaminants in the water "can still apply if the condition is not on the list of presumptions".

The VA says in the last 7 years it has received more than 42,000 claims since 2010. 

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