Stan Spangle Sr.: Lejeune water contamination gets vets focus

Jul. 04, 2013 @ 07:23 PM

When we gather Saturday for our quarterly meeting at Highland United Methodist Church, 1015 Mill Ave., High Point, we will have the latest news from D.C. It won’t be much because of Congress being gone for the July Fourth holiday.
However, we’ll have plenty to talk about in relation to concerns over past contamination of water at Camp Lejeune. All Marines in this area who were stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1951 and 1987 should be sure to attend this meeting. The latest information about the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and the claims process will be discussed. This information also applies to civilians who worked aboard the base and dependents who lived in base housing.
The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., took action last week to insure that the Department of Veterans Affairs establishes a registry of troops exposed to toxic fumes from the open air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Looks like these burn pits are turning into the “Agent Orange” of the troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Noting that the VA had moved somewhat slowly in establishing the registry as required by the 2012 Dignified Burial and Veterans Improvement Act, the Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to the $158 billion military construction and veterans appropriations bill that recommends the VA inform veterans and family members about the registry and work with the Defense Department to educate troops of the possible health consequences of exposure.
Last week U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., introduced the Expedited Hiring for VA Trained Psychiatrists Act. That is legislation that would create a fast-track hiring process for psychiatrists who train at Veterans Affairs facilities. The legislation was introduced and supported by Republican and Democratic representatives.
According to information I read from The Retired Enlisted Association, the legislation aims to reduce the wait times for veterans seeking to access mental health services by reducing the time it takes to fill these critical positions. “We have a responsibility to do all we can to make sure the brave men and women who served get the care they need and deserve when they return,” said Cartwright. “This legislation simply speeds up the process for recruiting trained, talented mental health professionals into a career caring for the invisible wounds of our nation’s veterans.”
Last month, I began meeting with a group in Greensboro that is forming a coalition of all groups in the Triad that are involved in helping veterans and their families. I plan to have much more later about this later.
See you all Saturday at 11 a.m. I understand we are having  a traditional Fourth of July lunch.
Semper Fi.
Pray for the families of the fallen.

Stan Spangle Sr. is a 21-year veteran of the Marine Corps, serving in Korea and Vietnam. He’s a member of numerous veterans organizations. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.