BLADEN COUNTY, NC– After years of waiting, veterans exposed to contaminated drinking water while assigned to Camp Lejeune may soon get government disability benefits.
Jerry Ensminger, a Marine Corps veteran, lost one of his four daughters, Janey, to leukemia after she was exposed to the toxic waters of Camp Lejeune.
Since then, he has fought for the Marine Corps and U.S. Government to acknowledge and address the problem.
“August of this year will be 20 years that I’ve been fighting for the truth and justice,” he said.
The veteran described feeling betrayed by the country he had pledged to serve.
“When we stepped up to the plate to serve our country, we all knew that we could be killed or maimed, but I’m going to tell you right now that I never gave them permission to harm my family,” he said.
On Thursday, the Obama Administration agreed to provide over $2 billion dollars in disability benefits to as many as 900,000 veterans who were also exposed to the contamination.
Ensminger says that, while the resolution comes as a small victory, there is still a long way to go.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “There are a lot of people that this is going to help, but it took so long.”
The veteran says that the only he will only achieve a sense of closure if the Marine Corps apologizes.
“I want to see someone take action against the people who are responsible for this,” he said.
Ensminger says he is not sure if that will ever happen though.
“I will go to my grave fighting about this, I know that. I won’t see a resolution to this in my lifetime,” he said.
He adds Sentors Thom Tillis, Richard Burr, Kay Hagan all played a big role in getting this issue attention and fixed.