Some Camp Legeune Marine Vets eligible for special benefits

By WEEK Producer

August 10, 2012 Updated Aug 10, 2012 at 6:16 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- A year ago Bob Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

"Its been a year this month," said Johnson. "I've been going through chemotherapy treatments and I got over my chemo treatments now and I'm on my way back to recovery."

A former Marine, Johnson believes he developed the cancer from exposure to contaminated water while serving at Camp Legeune in North Carolina in the early 1960's.

"The water had a very bad smell when I was there but we drank the water anyway because we didn't know any different."

As the assistant coordinator of Peoria's Veterans Outreach Center, Johnson now knows he's entitled to health benefits, and possibly compensation, for his exposure thanks to new legislation.

This week the President signed the Janey Ensminger Act, named for a 9 year-old girl who died from leukemia in 1985 and who lived at Camp Lejeune while her father was stationed there.

Health officials believe as many as a million people may have been exposed to the contaminated groundwater from 1957 to 1987.

Veterans Outreach Coordinator Rich Glavin says the new law also covers spouses and family members who may have been exposed.

"The amount of the benefit a person receives is dependent upon how severe the disabling effect of the claimed issue is," explained Glavin.

Glavin encourages veterans who served at Camp Legeune to contact the Peoria Veterans Outreach Center at 416 NE Jefferson at 655-7272.

The staff there can also assist with other veterans issues as well.

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