This week of Aug 6 2012, President Obama signed legislation that takes two important steps to help fulfill our nation's obligations to our veterans and their families. I’m so glad that Congress passed this bill and I hope that more Congressmen and Congresswomen can continue to do more good bipartisan work in protecting our veterans.
First, the new law offers extended care to a group of service-members who were based at Camp Lejeune with their families during a period when contaminated water caused major medical issues for a number of individuals. (I would like to thank the NC delegation for helping get this issues especially Congressman Brad Miller)
Marines and their families who lived on Camp Lejeune between 1957 and 1987 drank, bathed in, and cooked with water contaminated by various volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including Trichloroethylene (TCE) and Tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride. Many have become ill with diseases that have been linked to the chemicals in the water. In certain cases the contamination was as high as 280 times the safe level based on Safe Drinking Water Act regulations.
Among those standing with the President at today's bill signing were Jerry Ensminger, a Marine Corps veteran who has been an advocate for affected families, and Mike Partain, who was born at Camp Lejuene and later developed male breast cancer. The bill the President signed was named after Janey Ensminger, the Master Sargeant's daughter who passed away from leukemia at age nine.
Second, the law prohibits protests at military funerals in the two hours immediately prior to and following a military funeral -- a measure, the President said, that will ensure that our service-members get laid to rest with "the utmost honor and respect." (YES IT IS ABOUT TIME someone stopped the church from harassing family and friends of the fallen military member)
President Obama upheld this bill as an example of the type of issue on which Republicans and Democrats can find common ground, and he pushed lawmakers to take action on other measures to aid veterans -- including his proposal for a Veterans Jobs Corps.