Camp Lejeune announcements are misleading, veterans warn | News, Sports, Jobs
The executive directors of the Mahoning and Trumbull county Veterans Services Commissions say they have been inundated with phone inquiries since ads announcing lawsuits over tainted water at Camp Lejeune began running.
Almost all callers are barred from suing the federal government for damages, but the phones keep ringing, they said.
“Television ads harm veterans and lead them down a path of misinformation,” said Herm Breuer, executive director of the Trumbull County Veterans Services Commission. “Some ads are misleading. We see a wide brush with people on TV. Lawyers can be predatory on TV. They said, ‘If you were at Camp Lejeune, you’re eligible and you can get money now.” We’ve had hundreds of calls since the ads started.
It’s not just television. Ads are being aired on radio, the Internet and through direct mail, with an oversell of what veterans may receive, Breuer said. The first links when searching online for “Camp Lejeune trial” are paid advertisements for law firms.
“With the ads, we are getting hundreds of calls from loved ones of those who were at Camp Lejeune asking if they are eligible to sue,” said Susan Krawchyk, executive director of the Mahoning County Veterans Service Commission. “I would hate to see someone go to a lawyer because they would lose money. If there is a valid claim, we can help them. But we receive a lot of invalid claims.
About 5% of calls received at the Mahoning commission office are legitimate complaints, she said.
Breuer warned that “veterans who sign a warrant can ask that attorney to hand over (the claim) to another law firm and the veterans could be in the hands of the first attorney and the other.”
Because of attorney fees, veterans could end up losing money, he said.
Breuer and Krawchyk said veterans should do research to find reputable attorneys.
“I see an ad and I say, ‘That’s not true,'” Breuer said. “Do your due diligence and don’t pick up the phone because you saw an ad on TV. A veteran should not sign a warrant with a lawyer unless he understands what he is signing.
A NEW ACT
On August 10, President Joe Biden signed Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson honoring our pledge to fight the PACT (Comprehensive Toxics) Act.
The law extends Department of Veterans Affairs health care and benefits to veterans exposed to burning fireplaces and other toxic substances. Burn pits have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan to dispose of chemicals, cans, tires, plastics, medical equipment and human waste. Prior to the signing of the law, approximately 70% of disability claims involving pit exposure were denied by the VA.
The law directs VA officials to assume that certain respiratory illnesses and cancers were linked to exposure to fireplaces and to help veterans obtain disability benefits without having to prove the illness was the result of their service.
Part of this bill adds hypertension to the list of ailments for Vietnam War veterans likely caused by exposure to Agent Orange as well as those who served in other countries during that war.
The bill also contains a provision allowing veterans – and their dependents – stationed at Camp Lejeune, a Marine base in Jacksonville, North Carolina, or Marine Corps Air Station New River between August 1, 1953 and on December 31, 1987, the rare ability to directly sue the federal government for civilian damage caused by contaminated water at the base. The water was contaminated with trichlorethylene (a degreaser), perchlorethylene (a dry-cleaning solvent) and benzene (used in the manufacture of many other chemicals).
More than a million people could be covered by the provision.
“We don’t get a lot of calls about burn pit victims,” Krawchyk said. “It’s almost all about Camp Lejeune, and most aren’t valid claims. Just because you had a cousin there doesn’t mean you’re an eligible claimant.
In recent years, veterans and their family members who lived at Camp Lejeune were only permitted to receive financial assistance for health care for specific health conditions.
According to the AV, these conditions are adult leukemia, aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes, bladder cancer, breast cancer, esophageal cancer, female infertility, fatty liver disease, kidney cancer, leukemia, liver cancer, lung cancer, miscarriages, multiple myeloma, neurobehavioral disorders. side effects, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, renal toxicity and scleroderma.
Because these veterans can now sue the federal government for medical conditions caused by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune under the PACT Act, we see many advertisements about potential lawsuits, Breuer said.
“Veterans can already get VA disability for conditions related to contaminated water,” he said. “It would allow those same veterans to get potential damages for those same conditions. They should seek help from someone knowledgeable in personal injury law and not necessarily from the one they saw in a TV commercial.
Krawchyk said, “The ads are a bit misleading. It’s a matter of verbiage – “you might be eligible”. People think they’re going to write me a check, and they don’t. The advertisements present it in a way that makes it look like it will be easy to get money.
Also, to prove your case, she said, people need evidence.
“A married couple there with a miscarriage would need a medical receipt,” Krawchyk said. “Who has this documentation from 50 years ago?”