Camp Lejeune, located in North Carolina, is the largest Marine Corps base on the United States East Coast. For decades, the site has been a bedrock of American military power, home to thousands of service members and their families. But beneath the surface of this proud institution, a toxic secret has been brewing.
Between the 1950s and 1980s, people living or working at the base were unknowingly exposed to contaminated drinking water. The water was tainted with harmful chemicals at concentrations up to 240 to 3400 times higher than permitted safety levels. The contaminants included volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and benzene. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals has been linked to numerous health issues, including several types of cancers and birth defects.
The suffering and health challenges faced by those exposed to the contaminated water have been heartbreaking. For years, affected veterans and their families fought for recognition and compensation. However, legal roadblocks and government inaction stood in their way, denying them the justice they deserved.
In June 2022, after tireless advocacy from affected families, veterans' groups, and concerned citizens, the U.S. government passed the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021. This Act was part of a broader legislative effort, the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act.
The Honoring, Our PACT Act, was designed to address issues affecting veterans who were exposed to toxic materials during their service. It represents a significant commitment from our government to protect the health and welfare of those who served our country.