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Former Marine Paul Buckley is suffering from multiple myeloma, an incurable bone cancer. For several years, his doctors have been telling him that it was almost certainly caused by toxin contamination at Camp Lejeune, N.C., the military base where he lived during the 1980s.

Buckley applied for VA benefits, but was repeatedly denied by the U.S. government, who claimed that the contamination bore no relationship to his cancer. That is, until now.

Paul Buckley…received a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs earlier this month stating that “all reasonable doubt has been resolved in your favor.” Buckley’s incurable bone marrow cancer “was directly related to military service,” the letter continued.

“This is not the type of cancer you get from smoking or eating French fries,” said Buckley, 46…“I was too young to get this illness and I didn’t have any of the risk factors.”

But in the 1980s, Buckley was assigned to Camp Lejeune, where scientists found the presence of the degreaser trichloroethylene, or TCE, the dry-cleaning solvent tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, and the carcinogen benzene in the drinking water. –Stars and Stripes

The new government decision means that Buckley and his family can now collect VA benefits. But it also means that a lot more families might ultimately be entitled to compensation for toxic exposure, since an estimated 1 million people lived or worked at Camp Lejeune between 1957 and 1987, and more than 2,000 have filed legal claims.

The Marine Corps is currently getting in touch with as many as possible of the 1 million people potentially exposed to the toxins to inquire about their health and conduct tests to see how the contaminated water may have affected them.

If you or a family member lived or worked at Camp LeJeune from 1957-1987, you can register online at or call (877) 261-9782. While this contamination is a terrible tragedy, it’s heartening that the government is finally beginning to take responsibility for the servicemen and women who were injured.

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