Sep 29 2015

Today, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) spoke at a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on the impact of exposure to toxic chemicals on veterans. Senator Tillis took Secretary of the Navy Ray Maybus to task for questionable comments he recently made asserting there was no correlation between living at Camp Lejeune and the contraction of diseases after being exposed to toxic water contamination, despite the consensus of government scientists that there was. 
“I want this Camp Lejeune problem solved, and I think Secretary Mabus should be ashamed for the statement he made this week because he’s taking the eye off the ball of solving this problem,” said Senator Tillis.
Tillis also expressed his frustration with the VA for outright denying claims made by veterans for disability benefits for diseases already admitted by the VA as linked to exposure at Camp Lejeune. This is in contrast to the commitment made to Senators Tillis and Burr by the VA. Such a denial would force veterans to start the claim process over once the new program being developed by the VA to cover such diseases for exposed veterans is established. Tillis called on the VA to step up and start prioritizing results over optics.
“If we have to serve more veterans, we have to serve more veterans,” said Senator Tillis. “If we need a backlog to be created because there are people with legitimate claims, create the backlog, and then we’ll figure out the operation to draw down the backlog. But let’s not have policy driven by optics.”
Witnesses during the hearing included Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), who for years has been leading the fight for justice for the victims of the Camp Lejeune water poisoning, as well as retired Marine Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger, whose nine-year old daughter Janey died from cancer after being exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune. Ensminger has been an outspoken advocate for the veterans and family members of Camp Lejeune.