The military community should be aware of scams that target them in the wake of Congress passing the PACT Act, according to the Veterans Administration. The PACT Act allows veterans and their families who were exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune to sue the federal government for civil damages.
Camp Lejeune is a Marine base in Jacksonville, NC. The water supply at the base has been found to be contaminated by toxins such as the chemical benzene. According to scientific and medical evidence, there is a link between exposure to contaminants during military service at Camp Lejeune and the development of certain diseases later on, including adult leukemia, liver cancer, and multiple myeloma.
How are Veterans Being Targeted by Camp Lejeune Scams?
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) noted it is seeing an increase in phishing scams in the form of texts, emails, and social media posts that claim to help Camp Lejeune veterans and victims. A recent BBB study found that active-duty military members are 44 percent more susceptible to scams than the general population.
Veterans may be vulnerable to a variety of scams, including one in which scammers pose as third parties who claim they can execute the benefits process on behalf of the veterans. Trusting veterans pay the scammers or provide them with personal information, and the scammers then disappear.
There have also been misleading commercials that make it seem as though it will be easy for veterans to get money. The ads have been appearing on TV, radio, online, and through direct mail, and often oversell what veterans and their families can receive through lawsuits. Veterans may not be eligible for any compensation. However, the ads give them and their dependents false hope. In the worst cases, veterans who don’t have a legitimate claim are losing money in attorney fees.
What is the PACT Act?
Signed into law by President Joe Biden in August 2022, the PACT Act is a new law that expands Department of Veteran Affairs health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. It might be the largest healthcare and benefits expansion in VA history. The Act adds to the list of health conditions that are assumed to be caused by exposure to toxic substances.
Some of the changes brought about by the PACT Act include:
- The addition of more than 20 presumptive health conditions for burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic exposures
- The expansion and extension of eligibility for VA health care for veterans with toxic exposures
- The requirement for the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a toxic exposure screening to every veteran enrolled in VA healthcare
What Type of Benefits Can Veterans Receive Under the PACT Act?
Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 cumulative days between August 1953 and December 1987 may be eligible for disability benefits or health care benefits.
To receive disability compensation, veterans must provide the following evidence:
- Military records proving that the person served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1953 through December 1987 while on active duty or in the National Guard or Reserves; and
- Medical records stating they have one (or more) of the illnesses on the presumptive conditions list
Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune (and their family members) are also eligible to receive health care benefits, which include being paid for out-of-pocket health care costs related to any of the listed conditions, such as bladder cancer, breast cancer, and female infertility, among others.
How to Avoid Scams
Veterans should be wary of anyone who contacts them claiming to be from Veteran Affairs, whether by phone, email, or text message, especially if the person asks for personal information or offers to help the veteran get compensation. Rather than reply to an unsolicited message, the veteran should instead go to the VA website’s contact section and initiate the communication.
How We Help Victims of Camp Lejeune
With a national presence and a wealth of experience prosecuting water contamination cases, Waters Kraus & Paul has fought on behalf of individuals like you for 20 years, aggressively fighting to hold those responsible for failing to keep individuals safe. If you or a family member has suffered from a serious health condition or cancer caused by toxic water at Camp Lejeune, we can help.