Today, we are joined by a coalition of more than 20 organizations representing the interests of over one million members of the Uniformed Services, their families, retirees, and survivors expressing our deep disappointment with the Department of the Navy and the Department of Justice’s new “elective option” settlement program for victims of toxic water exposure at Camp Lejeune. This issue is of paramount concern to the organizations, which have advocated for the Camp Lejeune Justice Act to provide timely relief for those affected.
The letter emphasizes several major concerns with the settlement program, including inadequate offers that severely limit compensation for Veterans who spent less than five years on the base. We are deeply concerned with the program’s focus on the length of exposure rather than considering the varying degrees of suffering experienced by Veterans and their families, ultimately treating cases as equals based solely on the number of days spent on the base. Adding insult to injury, the program restricts those suffering from multiple illnesses to select only one ailment for compensation.
The $100,000 wrongful death “bonus” is insufficient to address the substantial financial and emotional losses experienced by grieving families. Additionally, the establishment of a 35-year latency period is exceedingly troubling, given that many diagnoses of diseases like Parkinson’s and certain cancers occur later in life.
We are calling on Congress to help finally bring these victims the justice they deserve. The government has a duty to help these individuals, and they need to cease evading responsibility. Camp Lejeune families deserve a fair and just resolution to their longstanding ordeals, and we urge members of Congress to stand with Veterans in opposition to the inadequate settlement options presented by the Department of the Navy and the Department of Justice.
Our Veterans and their families deserve better.