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Hello again and greetings from your friends at the VFW Post 5127. It has been a while since we lasted visited with each other, but it is always good to get together through the pages of this newspaper. In case you haven’t noticed, McCreary County is experiencing one of the most beautiful autumns I can remember ever seeing and I hope you will take some time from your busy schedule to get out and go for a walk in the woods. I would strongly recommend the Campus Trail at the college, which our post had a hand in restoring.
On October 23, Post 5127 was honored to host a quarterly meeting of District 11 of the Department of Kentucky, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. District 11 is composed of VFW posts in six counties: McCreary, Whitley, Pulaski, Laurel, Rockcastle, and Estill. Members from those counties meet every three months to renew old acquaintances and share ideas about how they serve the citizens of their communities. It is always a happy occasion with lots of good food and good humor, both of which veterans seem to thrive on.
At our District meetings, we, usually, have one or more invited guests. At the October meeting, we were honored to have as a guest, Comrade Jonathan Allen, Surgeon for the Department of Kentucky, VFW. Toward the end of the meeting, Surgeon Allen addressed the members regarding the new law that permits claims against the government by men and women who were stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, from 1953 to 1987. During that time, US Marine Corps personnel and their families bathed in and drank water that was contaminated with harmful chemicals and that were, later, believed to cause cancer.
This year, Congress passed the PACT Act, part of which provides damages for injuries caused by drinking the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Veterans, and members of their families, were given an opportunity to sue for damages. Since then, advertisements from law firms have flooded the homes of veterans through television, the internet, newspapers, and magazines, offering to assist them in filing claims against the government. It is this flood of misleading information that is of concern to the VFW and Surgeon Allen sounded the alarm to veterans to not be hoodwinked by these lawyers who have only their own interests in mind, not those of veterans.
According to Allen, a two year statute of limitations has been established for the filing of claims against the government. This does not mean that a veteran or member of his or her family must be sick before filing a claim, but that veterans, or members of their families, stationed at Camp Lejeune during the affected time period, have two years to get their names on a list of possible affected litigants. He encouraged any veteran stationed at Camp Lejeune to get their name on that list as soon as possible, since cancer is a slow growing disease that may affect them later in their lives.
Surgeon Allen also advised to stay away from those television lawyers who are only seeking to line their own pockets. Instead, they should seek our the Service Officers of local VFW, American Legion, AmVets, Marince Corps League, or DAV posts and get assistance from them in filing the necessary paperwork. This will be done at no cost to the veteran or the veteran’s family, and membership in any organization should not be required. It is certainly not required by the VFW. The Service Officer will also explain how any existing benefits from the VA may be affected by the claim. So, please spread the word to those you may know who served in the Marine Corps, as well as members of their families.
Until next time, take care, enjoy the beautiful weather, and when you meet a vet, don’t forget to say, “Thank You.”