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Contaminated                       drinking water at 
U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

There was a public meeting on January 21st at the Marriott Inn in Jacksonville N.C., there were men and women from Ohio to Florida . The meeting was businesslike, but the hearts and fears of the men and women in the conference room were apparent.

There were representatives from the VA, ATSDR,USMC,CAP and other Federal agencies that I am not familiar with. (it should be noted that no Congressional leaders where there). There were many questions and much discussion, but at the end of the day one thing was clear, the DOD, the USMC and the VA had done what they had been ordered to do. They were there to report the facts, provide the Federal agencies with a legal defense for their action and nothing else.

Several of the victims spoke to the panel, the stories were heartbreaking and all the same. They were at Camp Lejeune and are now sick, their doctors confirm that exposure to contaminated drinking water could likely be a contributing factor to their diease. But because of the government’s narrow view of the rule (The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) finalized a new rule on 13 January 2017 to consider eight diseases as presumptive for service connection. This presumptive service connection provides VA disability benefits to veterans who have one of eight diseases and served for no less than 30 days (consecutive or nonconsecutive) on permanent or temporary duty at Camp Lejeune between 1 August 1953 and 31 December 1987.) Take a closer look that rule and I am sure that you will begin to see what is wrong with this picture. Look good to you? How about this:

1. Eight diseases: Several women and men said that their diseases where not on the list, but with basic research I was able to find many more than eight diseases that can be attributed to lead, benzine, or Microbial Contaminants.

2. Veterans: The family members of the Marines or Sailors are not VETERANS but in some cases spent more time on the base that the service member or veteran, 

who any times were on deployments for months or years at a time, while the family’s whole life was that base.

3. Have one of eight diseases: That means that the VA, USMC, DOD and Congress is saying to us “Call us when you are dying”. There is no preventive care recommended or screening any where on any of the government websites, except the VA websites mention general good health habits. Where is the annual cancer screening, the mammograms or research regarding the healthy Marines and family members who may have a disease and not be aware of it? Where is the counseling for veterans and families?  I am sure that their mental health has been effected.

The VA stated that 1,731 dependents applied for the dependent health program, and only 234 are currently in the program and 511 have been denied.

If you are at all familiar with the government you know that there is a lot of “Not my responsibility”, and “I will look into that” or “We were not tasked to address that issue”.  So we know as much now as we did the day the new rule was published.

I hope that everyone that reads this will send a letter or call the their representatives in Congress and ask that free screening of veterans and dependents be made available, the dependents be included in the program and the rule be expanded to include any disease that could have been contracted from water contamination at Camp LeJeune and provide some mental health and administrative counseling



Health Concerns at Camp Lejeune

From the 1950s through the 1980s, veterans and family members who served on active duty or resided at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina may have been exposed to drinking water that was contaminated with benzene and other hazardous chemicals. Some evidence has indicated a link between the water contamination and the development of certain conditions, including several types of cancer. On Aug. 6, 2012, a new law was signed to provide medical care for veterans and family members who may have been affected. 

If you or a loved one served on active duty or resided at Camp Lejeune between Jan. 1, 1953 and Dec. 31, 1987 and developed any of the following conditions, you may have legal recourse:

Esophageal cancer
Lung cancer
Bladder cancer
Breast cancer
Kidney cancer
Renal toxicity
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma 
Neurobehavioral effects
 Multiple myeloma
Myelodysplastic syndromes
Hepatic steatosis
Female infertility 

What Compensation is the VA Providing? 

Under the new law, veterans and family members are only entitled to medical care through the VA for the 15 medical conditions listed above. This new law applies only to health benefits and not disability compensation; however, veterans and family members who suspect they developed a health condition related to the contaminated drinking water are still eligible to submit a claim to the VA for disability benefits.

Congress granted the VA the authority to prescribe all rules and regulations presumptively connecting a disease to service. We appreciate efforts by the VA and Congress to support our Marines and their families.
To contact the Department of Veterans Affairs to learn more about health care benefits, please visit, or call (877) 222-8387 (Healthcare), or (800) 827-1000 (Benefits).
The health and welfare of our Marines, Sailors, their families and our civilian workers are top priorities for the Marine Corps. We continue to work diligently to identify and notify individuals who may have been exposed to the chemicals in drinking water at Camp Lejeune. For more information about these efforts, or to update your contact information, please see: or contact the Camp Lejeune Historic Drinking Water Call Center at (877) 261-9782, or e-mail Please share this information with anyone that may have been at Camp Lejeune between the dates noted and encourage them to register with us.
John Merritt
Supportive Education for the Returning Veteran 


Supportive Education for the Returning Veteran (SERV) is currently partnering with the Cleveland Stokes VA Medical Center  to establish a nationally mandated The Cleveland Veterans and Family Resiliency Council

The mission of the council is to facilitate humane, quality, compassionate mental health services and provide education for Veterans and their families, to ensure that all Veterans, family members and partners feel comfortable using the Medical Center's mental health services. We will seek opportunities to partner with the Medical Center's mental health department and other community mental health organizations and improve the perception of mental health in the Northeast Ohio area. If you are a Veteran, family member or the member of a community mental health organization please join us at to kick off Cleveland's Veterans Mental Council


Summary of the January meeting; How to improve the veterans access.  The Veterans and Family Resiliency Council is working on the Cleveland and Parma's telephone system and we discussed funding, the National Veterans Mental Health Council teleconference and The annual report. We will have the agenda on the first of the month.  As you know we are having the meeting on the fourth Monday.  

See you at the next meeting


ON MONDAY, May 15, 2017 1:00 P.M.-3:00 P.M.

I will keep the website updated with any changes
If you have any questions feel free to contact me John Merritt at: or 216.798.3540.  Office 575. 312.2441






Who is the SERV Program?

The Veterans Research Group (VRG), a 501 (c) (3), supports veterans and veteran's families interested in higher education.  VRG is the parent organization of Supportive Education for the Returning Veteran (SERV).  SERV is a program designed to assist in creating a more veteran friendly college campus environment for our returning OEF-OIF service-members.  Section T of the “Higher Education Opportunity Act” calls for model programs for Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success.  SERV has been selected as one of the best programs in the country.  (Nov 12, 2008 Wal-Mart Ace award).  Cleveland State, a SERV school at the time was also selected for the Tillman Scholarship award.


John Merritt



216.481.8486 Office

21039 Goller Ave.

Euclid, Ohio 44119-1850

161 reunion


 The HMM-161 ASSOCIATION held their annual reunion in Knoxville in May of this year.  The group can from all over the United States to connect with their Marine Corp brothers.  The even lasted for 3 days and they had several social and business gathering.  The group is made up of Marines from what they term "The Nam era."  But most of the group's participants are from the training squadron HMM-161.  That group of men developed, trained, grew and went to Vietnam as on squadron and most stayed with the squadron for the 13 month tour.

SERV would like to say the "The Nam era group".  Thank you for a job well donel.