NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — There has been a big settlement over a big problem at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
The Obama Administration agreed to provide disability benefits totaling more than $2.2 billion to veterans exposed to contaminated drinking water at the Marine base.
Some 900,000 service members were potentially exposed between 1953 and 1987. However, 10 On Your Side has learned that not everyone possibly exposed will be getting a piece of the settlement.
WAVY’s Andy Fox spoke with a local Marine Corps veteran, Norfolk resident Keith English, who said that he is not included in the new benefits offered by the Obama Administration. English was denied of what he says is a needed and deserved benefit.
Camp Lejeune’s Tarawa Terrace is ground zero for one of the worst water contamination cases in U.S. history.
“I think I’m being cheated,” English said.
English lived in Tarawa Terrace from 1985 to 1987, which was at the end of the contamination period. 25 years after leaving the contaminated housing project, he got stage four throat cancer in 2012. He had a vocal chord removed, which has left his voice noticeably raspy.
“I have been accountable my entire time as a Marine, and now I want my government to be accountable for this,” English said.
In March 2016, English was diagnosed with stage three lung cancer.
“I had a three inch tumor on the right lung wrapped around a blood vessel.”
Five weeks later, he got stage four lip cancer.
“I had a walnut sized tumor. It appeared on my lip. It was so big, it burst through the side of my lip.”
English says he has no family history of cancer. He never smoked, and he tested negative for all factors that can cause cancer.
“I am hoping this is over, but I fear liver, kidney, or my brain is next,” English said.
English applied for benefits, but was denied because his cancers were not on the accepted list of eight diseases. Two of his diagnoses were once on the list, but they were taken off, so now, none of the three made the list — even though two of the cancers are in areas that would have come into direct contact with the contaminated water.
“My cancers are definitely the result of being exposed to that contaminated water,” English said.
English and thousands of others are part of a class action lawsuit that is appealing the current standards.
“I don’t want money. I am not even looking for one dime,” English added. “What I want is to have this considered service connected disability.”
English thinks the benefits will help his family in case he dies. This retired Marine is thinking about his 14-year-old son.
“He wants to go to the University of Virginia,” English said. “I want to be around when he graduates.”