VA Benefits for Esophageal Cancer Caused by Camp Lejeune Toxic Exposure

VA Benefits for Esophageal Cancer Caused by Camp Lejeune Toxic Exposure

Asophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer occurs in your esophagus, the tube which runs from the back of your mouth to your stomach, and is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths in the world. It generally comes in two forms, though it’s not limited to these alone. Squamous cell carcinoma is when the cancer occurs in the cells lining the inside of the esophagus, and Adenocarcinoma is when the cancer occurs in the esophagus’s mucous-secreting glands. leading to symptoms like difficulty swallowing, unexplained weight loss, chest pain, pressure, or burning, worse heartburn or indigestion, and coughing or hoarseness.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is one of the common forerunners of contracting esophageal cancer, otherwise esophageal cancer is commonly linked to smoking, too. Other risk factors include having the condition called Barrett’s esophagus, obesity, heavy alcohol use, having bile reflux, having an esophageal sphincter that doesn’t relax (achalasia), a habit of consuming hot liquids, low fruit and vegetable intake, and radiation treatment in your chest or upper abdomen.

For veterans, you should know that esophageal cancer is also linked to toxic exposure from a contaminated water supply at Camp Lejeune, which has come with a heightened risk of developing several types of cancer or other harmful conditions.

Camp Lejeune Toxic Exposure

The water supply at Camp Lejeune and the nearby Marine Corp Air Station (MCAS) New River was contaminated by various toxic chemicals from the mid-1950s through the mid-1980s. The main chemicals were trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride, in addition to several others.

The extensive harm caused by Camp Lejeune toxic exposure led to the creation of the Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, which provides for financial assistance for healthcare costs and establishes a presumptive service connection for some medical conditions, meaning veterans do not need to provide a medical nexus linking their diagnoses with an in-service event, injury, or illness.

Service members and their family members, including children who were in utero, who were at Camp Lejeune or the nearby Marine Corp Air Station (MCAS) New River for a period of no fewer than 30 days at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 may have been exposed to dangerous chemicals in their water supply.

VA Healthcare Benefits for Camp Lejeune Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer is not considered a presumptive condition related to Camp Lejeune toxic exposure, but veterans and their family members can still file claims for healthcare financial assistance thanks to the Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012.

As well as this, section 804 of the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022, an extensive bill addressing issues relating to military toxic exposure, establishes the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022. This law allows veterans, their family members, and civilians who lived or worked nearby Camp Lejeune to file lawsuits against the US government for additional financial relief for harm caused to them by toxic exposure. This is another avenue for you to seek compensation for damage not directly associated with your medical care.

The full list of conditions for which VA will cover out of pocket healthcare expenses, and some of which VA will consider for presumptive service connection, include the following:

  • Esophageal cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Kidney cancer (presumptive)
  • Multiple myeloma (presumptive)
  • Renal toxicity
  • Female infertility
  • Scleroderma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (presumptive)
  • Lung cancer
  • Bladder cancer (presumptive)
  • Leukemia (presumptive)
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes (presumptive)
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Miscarriage
  • Neurobehavioral effects

Service Connection and VA Disability Benefits for Lung Cancer

Esophageal cancer is not considered a presumptive condition for VA disability compensation if it is related to toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune. Nor is it considered presumptive for exposure to Agent Orange, for that matter. It is considered presumptive when related to exposure to burn pits during the Gulf War or post-9/11 period, which means veterans with esophageal cancer who were harmed by burn pits don’t need to provide a medical nexus proving that their diagnosis is linked to an in-service illness, accident, or incident.

If you have esophageal cancer and were affected by toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune, you can still file a claim for VA monthly disability compensation, but you will need to provide a medical nexus linking your diagnosis to your service history. This can be accomplished through medical documentation from your doctor as well as well-documented service history records and buddy statements.

To understand your disability rating for esophageal cancer, VA rates all cancers according to the stage of treatment. Veterans undergoing treatment are granted a 100% disability rating, which extends for a 6-month period beyond your final treatment. After that, your condition is assessed and your rating adjusted in increments of 10% based on the residual effects of your cancer. If your cancer goes into remission, then your disability rating will drop to 0%.

Assistance With Your Claim

Esophageal cancer is a serious medical condition that has proven deadly all over the world. While its commonality is often tied to regions based on the prevalence of obesity or smoking, its link to Camp Lejeune toxic exposure makes it a serious concerns for veterans who were stationed there. For assistance with your claim or appeal for financial compensation or VA disability benefits related to Camp Lejeune toxic exposure, contact VA Disability Group PLLC at 844-VET-LAWS or write to us online today.