By now, it’s almost impossible to have not heard about the Camp Lejeune lawsuit. This lawsuit comes after decades of contaminated groundwater at the Marine Corps Base in North Carolina. The water was used for a variety of purposes, affecting the families there and those who served. Now, a study is showcasing a possible link between Camp Lejeune and Parkinson’s disease. Results indicate that there could be a much higher risk of experiencing the illness for Marines who served at the base. The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) in collaboration with the JAMA Network and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on May 15, 2023.
Related read: How To Get Compensated Through Camp Lejeune Justice Act
Camp Lejeune and Increased Risk for Parkinson’s Disease
The study by the VA and JAMA Network called Risk of Parkinson Disease Among Service Members at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, showcases damning but not surprising findings. Camp Lejeune and Parkinson’s disease seem to be connected as those who served at the North Carolina installation experience Parkinson’s at a 70% higher rate than other installations.
It’s not news that Camp Lejeune had been affected by contaminated drinking water. Both trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE), among other chemicals, have been proven to exist in the water at the base during the period of time between 1953 and 1987.
The reason for their existence in the war is because storage tanks underground leaked the harmful chemicals, as well as various other spills, disposals, and harmful substances released due to a dry-cleaning business that was located close to the base.
While the wells that were leaking were shut down, the damage was already done. It’s believed that up to 1 million people were exposed in total and Camp Lejeune has had a bit of a crisis on its hands since the news broke.
Other studies have shown a link between TCE and Parkinson’s disease, the same chemical that those on base were exposed to. Of the Veterans that were studied and would develop Parkinson’s disease, 151 of them served at Camp Pendleton and 279 had served at Camp Lejeune.
Findings From the Study
The study examined the health records of Veterans stationed at a base from 1975 to 1985. This period was chosen due to data availability and high TCE exposure. TCE levels in Lejeune water were more than 70 times the permissible amount.
The study compared the long-term health of Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune to those at Camp Pendleton, California during the same timeframe. Pendleton’s water did not contain TCE.
During that time, 172,128 service members were stationed at Camp Lejeune, while 168,361 were stationed at Camp Pendleton, California.
Researchers analyzed health data from the Veterans Health Administration and Medicare databases for 158,122 Veterans from January 1, 1997, to February 17, 2021. Out of this group, 430 Veterans had Parkinson’s disease, with a 70% higher occurrence among Lejeune veterans.
Moreover, Camp Lejeune Veterans exhibited higher rates of early Parkinson’s symptoms such as tremors, anxiety, and erectile dysfunction.
Camp Lejeune and Parkinson’s Disease Benefits and Healthcare Options
The uptick in interest in Camp Lejeune in recent years is well-founded. Since 2017, Parkinson’s disease and seven other conditions have been considered to be a “presumptive service connection” by the VA. Marines qualified as long as they served at Camp Lejeune between the years of 1953 and 1987 for a minimum of 30 days.
Because the VA has designated Parkinson’s as a presumptive condition, there are benefits and healthcare options available to qualifying service members who either were exposed to the drinking water or served at the base during the timeframe of August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
Camp Lejeune and Parkinson’s disease seem to have a direct correlation, and there are several other conditions that military families are also at risk for if they were stationed there during this time. If you served during that period or have family that’s affected, the VA has a website set up to receive benefits and healthcare options. Simply visit VA.gov/CampLejeune.