Marines deserve better medical care from government

Male breast cancer has struck 20 former Marines or sons of Marines who lived at Camp Lejeune in the ’60s through the ’80s. The Marine Corps denies that the cancer is related to the camp, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is not paying the medical expenses.

Rick Kelly, a former Marine, realized he had a problem when he felt constant pain in his chest.

“My wife would hug me, and it became almost unbearable,” Kelly said to CNN. “I went to a doctor, and they sent me to the oncologist, and they did biopsies on both sides. And then I ended up with a double mastectomy.”

Other Marines have undergone similar procedures. The treatments include partial or complete chest removal from the men, as well as chemotherapy and radiation procedures. As part of a group of 1,600 former Camp Lejeune residents, the men are suing the Marine Corps for almost $34 billion.

The water in Camp Lejeune was contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE). A report from Environmental Science and Engineering, Inc. published January 1985 proved the water at the camp was in fact contaminated with TCE and other toxic chemicals.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, TCE is a colorless or blue organic liquid with a chloroform-like odor. The main use of TCE is to remove grease from fabricated metal parts and some textiles.

Grease remover is not something the Marines should have been drinking. They were faithfully serving the country and deserved at least clean drinking water.

According to CNN, the chemicals found at Camp Lejeune were known to be potential carcinogenic agents. The government should cooperate with the former Marines and their families by paying for their medical expenses.

The fact that 20 out of just 2,000 men who get breast cancer annually in the U.S. all lived in the same area is not a coincidence.

Breast cancer in men usually appears after the age of 60. All of these former Marines were diagnosed with cancer outside the typical age bracket.

Dr. Phillip Leveque, who has four science major degrees, said in a Salem-News article, the “evidence makes the connection impossible to ignore.”

“It is probable that the amount of exposure in duration of time and also the amount of drinking water, had to do with it. One other fact remains: many miscarriages and abnormal babies were born during the same time span,” he said.

Janey Ensminger died of childhood leukemia at 9 years old. Her father was a Marine Corps drill instructor stationed at the Camp. The family was exposed to the toxic chemicals in the water everywhere they went.

In memory of his daughter and other victims, Jerry Ensminger set up a Web site for the people who believe they were affected by the water:

With all the facts surrounding this case, the government should be held responsible and acknowledge that the Marines’ cancer is related to drinking the water at Camp Lejeune. The VA should pay their expenses.

Xhenis Berberi is a senior majoring in political science and economics.