Washington, D.C. — Today, Senator Ted Budd (R-NC) spoke on the Senate floor and called out the Department of Justice and the U.S. Navy for delays in processing veterans claims related to toxic water exposure at Camp Lejeune.
Senator Budd said:
“It is unacceptable that the Navy and the DOJ have failed to process any of these claims and have failed to deliver a plan or strategy to do so.”
“The Navy and the DOJ have a responsibility to act, and I’m calling on these departments to do so now.”
“I will continue to advocate for those who served at Camp Lejeune until they receive the care and respect they deserve.”
Full Transcript of Senator Budd’s Speech:
As my colleagues know so well, as federal officials, one of the primary duties of our offices is to serve millions of constituents when they interface with the federal government.
As for North Carolina, my constituents include one of our country’s largest populations of active duty military members and veterans, including those who served at Camp Lejeune.
As we know, between 1953 and 1987, veterans who served at Camp Lejeune were exposed to toxic water.
These men and women are now experiencing various health challenges ranging from deadly cancers to Parkinson’s Disease.
In order to help, I was proud to support the PACT Act, which included the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.
This bill was signed into law last year and allows veterans who are suffering to receive damages and become eligible for VA care.
However, after nearly a year, not a single claim has been processed.
On May 3, one struggling veteran wrote me this hand-written letter. He is a retired U.S. Marine in New Bern, North Carolina – my mother’s childhood hometown.
In his letter, he describes the toll these delays are taking on older veterans who are nearing the end of their lives.
“I’m certain, obituaries posted in local newspapers across the country [now include] marines or family members who lived on Camp Lejeune, drank its water, bathed and cooked using it, who have died from its use.”
This man is one of the over 70,000 veterans in North Carolina and across the country who are waiting for action.
It is unacceptable that the Navy and the DOJ have failed to process any of these claims and have failed to deliver a plan or strategy to do so.
That’s why several of my Senate and House colleagues and I demanded an explanation from the Secretary of the Navy and Department of Justice.
The Navy’s response to our letter was wholly inadequate.
It failed to answer critical questions, and also failed to provide a timeline for responding to veteran claims.
Each and every one of our veterans deserve to be treated with the dignity and respect befitting their service to our nation.
When they face health challenges related to their service at facilities like Camp Lejeune, their claims must be dealt with promptly and completely.
The Navy and the DOJ have a responsibility to act, and I’m calling on these departments to do so now.
I will continue to advocate for those who served at Camp Lejeune until they receive the care and respect they deserve.