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Lejeune Breast Cancer Victims Not Supported by CorpsRobert O'Dowd Salem-News.com
So much for Semper Fi from the Corps’ leadership.
(CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.) - The Marine Corps threw the male breast cancer survivors under the bus on Friday night. On Friday's Campbell Brown show, the spokesman for the Corps (a Major General no less) danced around the issue of causality for the Lejeune Marines with male breast cancer.
He had it wrong. The VA does not require total proof of a service connection cause to award a compensation and disability pension.
The VA requires a nexus opinion from a medical doctor but you don’t have to show a 100% probability that the injury was service connected. A 50% probability of service connection is all the VA needs.
The Lejeune count of male breast cancer Marines is up to 27 men as of Friday, September 25, 2009. It’s obvious to me that the Corps could care less about these men.
The VA only requires a veteran to provide medical support that their illness was “at least as likely as not” service related. This VA standard equals a 50% probability, not total proof of causality or 100% probability as suggested by the Major General.
The CNN reporter didn’t pick up on this discrepancy. The veteran wins if it’s a tie.
The Major General’s responses to the CNN questions was that the Corps couldn’t help any of these men unless they had proof that their disease was caused by contaminated water at Lejeune. The VA doesn’t require that level of proof. If a medical doctor can provide an opinion that a veteran’s bladder cancer was “at least as likely as not” connected to service at Lejeune, the veteran has a solid basis for a compensation and disability claim. Why is the Corps using a higher standard than the VA?
Could it be the toxic tort claims (over $35 billion per CNN) filed by dependents at Lejeune? Is this really a money issue for the Corps and DOD?
With over 1,400 military sites contaminated with TCE, the DOD stands to lose a lot of money in tort suits from dependents and civilian workers.
None of the Marine veterans can file a successful toxic tort claim. Based on the Supreme Court’s Feres doctrine, injured Marine veterans can only file VA compensation and disability claim.
Since the male breast cancers did not occur until years after their discharge dates, these men would have to pay for an Independent Medical Evaluation (IME) to support a VA claim. That’s the rub. IME can run into thousands of dollars. Alternatively, the Corps could request the VA approve presumptive disability for Lejeune Marines with solvent linked diseases like male breast cancer.
Don’t look for the Marine Corps to go the extra mile for these veterans. And, unless these men have several thousand dollars to fork over for an IME, they will not obtain any VA compensation. So much for Semper Fi from the Corps’ leadership.
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Bob O’Dowd is a former U.S. Marine with thirty years of experience on the east coast as an auditor, accountant, and financial manager with the Federal government. Half of that time was spent with the Defense Logistics Agency in Philadelphia. Originally from Pennsylvania, he enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 19, served in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Marine Aircraft Wings in 52 months of active duty in the 1960s. A graduate of Temple University, Bob has been married to Grace for 31 years. He is the father of two adult children and the grandfather of two boys. Bob has a blog site on former MCAS El Toro at mwsg37.com. This subject is where Bob intersected with Salem-News.com. Bob served in the exact same Marine Aviation Squadron that Salem-News founder Tim King served in, twenty years earlier. With their combined on-site knowledge and research ability, Bob and Tim and a handful of other ex-Marines, have put the contamination of MCAS El Toro on the map. The base is highly contaminated with TCE, trichloroethelyne
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