I am a veteran of the Marine Corps. I
was stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC from 1984 - 1987. Those who know me know this already.
What they may not know is that in 1990 I was diagnosed with Antiphospholipid Antibody
Syndrome and Lupus. These illnesses are the direct reasons for why I have suffered 4
strokes to date. One of which affected my speech and left side and left me with residual
(life lasting) effects. I was able to fight back and continue with my music. It is not
easy, by any means. But my passion for what I do gives me the energy I need.
About a year or so ago, I was made aware that the wells on Camp Lejeune were contaminated
with chemicals from a dry cleaning company off base. This was happening for many years
before it was discovered. These wells were finally capped in 1985. The chemicals are
toxic, as reported from the Agency for Toxic Substances. The government was desperately
searching for women who were pregnant or gave birth at Camp Lejeune during the time the
wells were in operation for a study on the effects of these chemicals on the unborn. They
believed that is was possible that exposure could cause health issues such as cancers and
leukemia in these children. That study has been closed and the results will be out in the
fall, however, many other health issue concerns have been raised by veterans and those who
lived on this base.
Many people who have been exposed at Camp Lejeune are finding themselves dealing with
unexplained illnesses, common diagnosis, rare disease. I am included in this group. Many
families of some deceased are questioning if the water played a direct part in their loved
ones death. I was the picture of health before my enlistment. I believe in my heart of
hearts that my illness is directly related to the exposure of these chemicals. I have the
toxicology reports to show that when you inject mice with some of these chemicals they
develop "Lupus like symptoms". Imagine that, that's what I have. As well as,
other immune system issues that are seen in these reports. The government is looking at
this, but not at all levels. They have focused so far on the children. That is good, but
so many others have also been effected. It is believed that some of this stuff can be
passed on to children through DNA. I have a 14 year old daughter! The thought that I could
have passed this on to her scares me.
Nobody can undo what has been done, but they can help us who have been effected. This is
where I need the help!
There are two sisters who lived on Camp Lejeune for 15 years who have started an
non-profit group called The Stand (stands for: Toxic Homefront Empowered Survivors Take
All Necessary Defense). Their mission is to help people like myself seek justice and help.
They are a voice for us and a place where we can come together in numbers to seek the
information we need to make sure we are taken care and those who don't even know about
this are made aware. I was shocked when I first visited this site and saw how many other
people have similar illnesses. There is power in numbers. The more of us that come forward
the larger our voice. We are not blaming anyone, that will get us nowhere.
If you are a Veteran, family of a Veteran, friend of a Veteran, or were at Camp Lejeune
for any reason please visit this web site. It may make a difference in your life or the
life of someone you know. Awareness is the key here. The site address is http://www.watersurvivors.com the site
contains a great amount of info and support. We need help in spreading the word about
this. Many veterans still don't know they were exposed in spite of all the publicity on
national TV and newspapers. This group is working on that issue as well.
A final thought: I dedicated my
entire album to Veterans so that they would never be forgotten for the sacrifices they
made and make every day. That statement by me is for every sacrifice, not just war related
sacrifices. "I am but one voice, but with help I will become a choir."
If anyone has any questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will be happy to help you.
Hear clips of Debbie's CD on MKOC and
purchase the CD on Mp3.com
Debbie West on MKOC