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Akaka Proposal for Camp Lejeune Found Unacceptable by Veterans and Their FamiliesJerry Ensminger Special to Salem-News.com
Shifting federal roles could impact the 'Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act'.
(CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.) - There are few people who know more about the Marine Corps' contamination problems at Camp Lejeune, N.C. than Jerry Ensminger. Jerry lost his daughter Janey to cancer, which he later learned was connected to the toxic water at the Marine base.
After Jerry put it all together, he became a relentless force in his desire to expose the situation and save Marines and their families.
Here is the letter Jerry and others are sending to the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee:
I am writing you today because you are a legislative assistant to a senator who serves on the Senate Veterans' Affairs committee or you are a member of the Veterans' Affairs committee professional staff. I am one of the 152,467 victims who are currently registered with the United States Marine Corps and/or I am a concerned family member of a victim.
It has come to our attention that Senator Akaka, Chairman Senate Veterans' Affairs committee has proposed an alternative to Senator Burr's S-1518 "Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act." We also understand that the chairman's proposal will attempt to shift the heaviest responsibility and thus the control of providing Camp Lejeune victims their health care away from the Veterans Administration and place it on the Department of Defense, the entity responsible for our exposures. We find the inclusion of the Department of Defense to any degree in this process unacceptable for the following list of well documented facts;
1. It was a Department of Defense entity who violated their own regulations/protective standards which allowed our drinking water to become contaminated in the first place.
2. It was a Department of Defense entity who knowingly provided us this contaminated drinking water after it was determined to be contaminated.
3. It is a Department of Defense entity who has, and continues to attempt to conceal and deny the magnitude of this contamination through deceit and wanton manipulation of the facts, all of which are throughly documented.
4. Currently, a Department of Defense entity is in direct violation of United States Code, Title 42, through its steadfast refusal to fully fund the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's ongoing congressionally mandated mission at Camp Lejeune.
5. Camp Lejeune is the only Department of Defense "Super Fund" site which involves documented exposures to contaminated drinking water. The documented levels of contaminants found in Camp Lejeune's drinking water are some of the highest in this nation's history. Tens of thousands of service men, women and their families were needlessly poisoned. Therefore it is our view that for these reasons it would only serve to minimize what happened at Camp Lejeune by not specifically addressing the Camp Lejeune tragedy with separate and distinct legislation.
I must ask you, with the above demonstrated track record and unwillingness to comply with current Federal law; Would you want your own or a family member's destiny placed back into the very hands of the party responsible for perpetrating the transgression? That is why we cannot fathom why Senator Akaka and members of the Veterans' Affairs Committee would think we would find this proposal acceptable.
We have a department within our federal government which was created for this very purpose, the Veterans Administration, and that is where the Camp Lejeune veterans and their affected family members should be cared for. It would be a fool's errand and quite frankly catastrophic to allow the tentacles of the Department of Defense to infiltrate this critical phase of the scientific inquiry into the largest domestic environmental contamination in Department of Defense history. We volunteered to protect and defend our nation knowing full well that our service could result in personal harm or even death, but what we never bargained for was the fact that our own leadership would knowingly and negligently allow us and our family members to be poisoned. That is why we know Senator Burr's bill (S-1518) has our best interests at heart.
J. M. Ensminger
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