Groups demand information on Camp Lejeune disability claims
By Patricia Kime, Military Times, Dec. 7, 2015
The approval rate for disability claims filed with the Veterans Affairs Department for illnesses related to poisonous drinking water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, has dropped by two-thirds since VA implemented a third-party review process to provide medical opinions on related diagnoses.
The Camp Lejeune subject matter expert program requires a VA-appointed physician to review the medical files of former troops who lived on base from 1953 to 1987 and are seeking compensation for illnesses possibly related to drinking contaminated water there.
But since the program was introduced in 2012, claims approvals have dropped from 25 percent to 8 percent, prompting critics to question the independence and training of the VA's 22 to 30-some experts, whom the department has not identified.
Veterans advocacy groups, including Vietnam Veterans of America, the Connecticut State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America and The Few, the Proud, the Forgotten, have filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records about the subject matter expert program, seeking information on the identities, training and education of those experts.
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