Retired Marine Sergeant Jerry Ensminger thought the water that came out of his taps at the Camp Lejeune military base in North Carolina was safe. It’s the water he bathed his daughter Janey in and the water he gave her to drink. But it was also the water that killed her.
Jerry’s daughter Janey was diagnosed with childhood leukemia when she was 6 years old, and died three years later in 1987.
In the following years, Jerry asked himself again and again why Janey got sick when they had no family history of cancer. Then, he learned what the Marine Corps had known for decades: the water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals, poisoning the water and the people there. But instead of telling people, the Marines covered it up.
Today, the government refuses to pay for medical treatments for veterans and their family members who were poisoned. So Jerry started a petition on Change.org to get other veterans’ families the health care they need to fight the effects of Camp Lejeune’s water.
As many as 200,000 people who worked and lived at Camp Lejeune between 1957 and 1987 have gotten sick and even died from leukemia, birth defects and various cancers tied to the poisoned water.
But Veterans Administration Secretary Eric Shinseki said just last month that he thinks providing health care to veterans of Camp Lejeune would be “premature.” But for Jerry, taking responsibility for what happened to the water and families at Camp Lejeune wouldn’t be premature — it’s more than a decade overdue.
Jerry’s struggled with the loss of his daughter for decades, and has since fought to make sure the Marines take care of those who were exposed to the chemicals at Camp Lejeune and are still alive. He started his petition on Change.org in the hope that it will focus attention on this issue while there’s still time left for other veterans and their families.
Click here to sign Jerry’s petition calling on the V.A. and Congress to pay for medical treatments for veterans of Camp Lejeune and their families, where thousands of people were poisoned by polluted water.