Source: News & Observer
Last week both North Carolina Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr voted against a bill that would provide help for Veterans who have been exposed to hazardous toxins during their service, a bill that they helped to craft.
According to the News & Observer, in 1985 Camp Lejeune was found to have water wells containing trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene, benzene, vinyl chloride and other toxins. Veterans of the camp from August 1953 and December 1987 could have been exposed to these chemicals and sustained life-long health effects such as bladder, kidney and liver cancers and diseases including adult leukemia, aplastic anemia, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Parkinson’s disease.
Because North Carolina was the only state that had a 10-year deadline from when the exposure happened to when a person could sue, Lejeune veterans were prevented from filing lawsuits for the toxic exposure. Senator Tillis worked to remove this law during his tenure as Speaker of the NC House of Representatives but it was not retroactive and provided no help to those already exposed.
The Honoring our PACT Act passed in the Senate last week, in spite of Tillis and Burr’s opposition. The bill would enable exposed veterans to health care from the VA, not only from Camp Lejeune, but also those serving near open-air burn pits in Southwest Asia and near radiation in Eniwetok, Palomares, Spain and Uzbekistan; and provides coverage for veterans of Vietnam who served in Guam, American Samoa, Johnston Island, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
Tillis released a statement explaining his vote stating that he had concerns that the Department of Veteran Affairs lacked the ability to implement the PACT act.
A version of this bill did pass the House 256-174 in March, with mixed results from North Carolina’s 13 representatives. Reps. David Rouzer, Patrick McHenry, Madison Cawthorn, Dan Bishop, Ted Budd and Virginia Foxx, all Republicans, voted against the bill.