May 24 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, North Carolina resident Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger testified before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in support of S.2888, The Janey Ensminger Act of 2016, bipartisan legislation that was introduced earlier this year by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Bill Nelson (D-FL).

The legislation is named in honor Master Sergeant Ensminger’s daughter Janey, who was only nine-years-old when she died in 1985 from a rare form of leukemia after being exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune her entire life. Master Sergeant Ensminger has been a tireless advocate for the members of the military and families that were harmed by toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune.

“I would like to commend both Senators Burr and Tillis for writing and introducing this bill,” said Jerry Ensminger at today’s hearing. “This bill confirms to the hundreds of thousands of marines, sailors, their families, and the thousands of civilian employees who were negligently exposed to the highest levels of harmful contaminants ever recorded in a major drinking water system, that the United States Senate delegation of North Carolina has our backs.”

Watch the video of Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger’s full testimony here.

“Mr. Ensminger, I know this is deeply personal to you,” said Senator Tillis at today’s hearing. “This is something Senator Burr has been working on for quite some time, as well as my predecessor. This is an instance where the Veterans’ Affairs Committee should go along with the recommendations of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to determine which diseases will be treated, but I think the benefit of the doubt always has to go to the veterans, particularly with what happened at Camp Lejeune.”

Watch the video of Senator Tillis’ full remarks here.

“Today, the Senate heard critical testimony from Jerry Ensminger, who is a reluctant authority on Camp Lejeune’s poisoned water because his daughter tragically died as a result of our government’s failures,” said Senator Burr. “I will not stop fighting for justice for the victims of Camp Lejeune. There remain many obstacles for us to overcome. I thank Jerry for his tireless efforts at holding the VA accountable and improving the lives of all who suffer from illnesses incurred at Camp Lejeune. No one has been a better advocate for these individuals and I cannot commend him highly enough for his steadfast determination.” 

The Janey Ensminger Act of 2016 requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide medical care for all diseases that can be scientifically linked to exposure to toxic chemicals at Camp Lejeune.

The legislation also requires that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a federal agency within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, review all relevant scientific literature every three years to determine if sufficient or modest causal links have been found between toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune and additional diseases and conditions. This will ensure that veterans and their families will not have to wait to get medical care as researchers learn more about the long-term health consequences of the toxins found in the water at Camp Lejeune.