Emotional toll on victims and why miscarriage cases are difficult to prove

“Someone dropped the ball”

In the early 1970s, Kozobarich said adverse birth outcomes were so widespread among women on the base that some mothers treated it like a contagion, avoiding each other or hiding in their homes.

“Everyone was scared,” she said.

Military leaders were alerted to the water problem as early as 1980, when they received a U.S. Army laboratory report that included a handwritten note saying the water was “severely contaminated,” Justice Department lawyers have admitted in court filings.

Camp Lejeune hired an outside laboratory to test its drinking water system in 1982 when it was expected that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would issue new regulations. The results were worrying and showed chlorinated solvents in the drinking water Mike Hargett, the lab’s co-owner.

At that time, Hargett personally warned at least one supervisor at Camp Lejeune about the dangers the chemicals posed to the base’s residents. But he said he was released in less than five minutes.

“It bothered me that there was no real concern that we needed to do something about it today,” Hargett said.

According to ATSDR, the most contaminated wells remained open for more than two years.

On April 13, 1984 – seven months before the first well was closed – Ann Johnson gave birth to a baby girl named Jacquetta, who had a cleft lip, cleft palate and brain stem problems. Her right eye and right hand were not properly formed and she could not breathe or swallow on her own.

“She couldn’t scream out loud,” Johnson said. “You could see her mouth open and you could see tears running down her eyes, but she couldn’t make a sound.”

Seven weeks later, on the car ride home from the hospital, Jacquetta stopped breathing while her mother played with her curly hair.

“It’s been in the back of my mind for 39 years,” Johnson said. “Did I do something wrong?”

Many people exposed to the virus went there for many years before learning about the contamination.

In 1997, Jerry Ensminger, a Navy veteran, had been preparing dinner when he looked at the television and saw a news report about the poisoning for the first time.

“I dropped my plate of spaghetti on the living room floor,” he said.

Ensminger had spent the last dozen years wondering how Janey, his curious and robust nine-year-old daughter conceived and born at Camp Lejeune, could have died of leukemia.

Image: Jerry Ensminger holds a portrait of his daughter Janey, who died of leukemia in 2007 at the age of 9.
Jerry Ensminger holds a portrait of his daughter Janey, who died of leukemia at age 9.Gerry Broome / AP file

“It was like God opened the heavens and said, ‘Jerry, here’s a glimmer of hope that you’ll get your answer,'” he said.

In his first television interview addressing the contamination since leaving the Marine Corps, retired Maj. Gen. Eugene Gray Payne, who was put in charge of Marine Corps installations in 2007, said leaders had taken the warnings seriously , the wells should close earlier and show more compassion.

“There were personnel on base who were informed that there were contaminants and they should have taken action,” he said. “Someone dropped the ball hard.”

When Payne testified at a congressional hearing in 2010, he said he and the commander were told “over and over again” that the water situation was better than it was.

“I think there may have been a reluctance,” Payne said. “The fear that the backlash to the negligence or possible negligence would have been enormous. And I think back then people were afraid to say it. And I think we made a mistake by not doing that.”

“In any large organization there is a very real danger that somewhere in the bureaucracy someone is covering up a potentially extremely dangerous situation,” he added.

The Marine Corps, part of the Navy, directed its comment to the Navy, which said it “remains committed” to processing all claims under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act and encouraged eligible individuals to file administrative claims.

Image: President Joe Biden, after signing the PACT Act of 2022, gives his pen to Brielle Robinson, the daughter of Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson, who died of cancer two years earlier.
President Joe Biden, after signing the PACT Act in 2022, gives his pen to Brielle Robinson, the daughter of Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson, who died of cancer two years earlier.Evan Vucci / AP File

“A complicated matter”

On August 10, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the PACT Act, the “most significant expansion of benefits and services for toxically exposed veterans in more than 30 years,” according to the White House.

A provision of the bill allows people exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune to file new claims in the Eastern District of North Carolina if they have waited longer than six months for the Navy to resolve or respond to their original claim.

With filings taking less than a year, the Navy has received more than 93,000 lawsuits under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act but has not settled any of them, an official said. According to Clerk of Court Peter Moore Jr., at least 1,192 cases have been filed in federal court in North Carolina so far.

Brian Ashcraft

TheHiu.com is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@thehiu.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button