Veterans and their family members who say they were sickened by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune — including thousands of Floridians — would qualify for Department of Veterans Health Care under legislation filed Tuesday in Washington. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, introduced the bill to provide care for veterans dubbed "poisoned patriots" by Congress. Drinking water at the Marine Corps base on the North Carolina seaboard was contaminated with a variety of carcinogens during a 30-year period ending in the mid 1980s. Some scientists call it the worst public drinking water contamination in the nation's history. Up to a million Marines and family members lived on the base during that time. So far, almost 12,000 Floridians with ties to Lejeune have registered with the Marines. That's the second-highest total for any state, behind only North Carolina. One thing that has gotten the attention of epidemiologists studying Lejeune water is a male breast cancer cluster identified by a Tallahassee resident born on the base in 1968. At least 20 men who lived at Camp Lejeune during the contamination have been diagnosed with male breast cancer or precancerous breast tumors. The numbers are startling, given the rarity of the disease — just 1,900 men are diagnosed each year. William R. Levesque, Times staff writer
Bill proposes VA care for Camp Lejeune's 'poisoned patriots'
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