A Personal Mission: The Story Behind the Camp Lejeune Claims Center

Chris Carberg, founder of the Camp Lejeune Claims Center

When Chris Carberg’s father, a Camp Lejeune Marine, was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2012, it ignited a quest for answers. It was then that Chris first learned about the water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

Despite a valiant fight, Chris’s dad, John, lost his battle with the aggressive cancer in 2018, leaving his son determined to seek justice.

As a long-time health and policy advocate, Chris’s mission evolved into the desire to assist other families impacted by the toxic water.

When the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 (CLJA) was on the verge of being passed, Chris knew it was time for him to take action.

Learn more about our history and what makes us different from the rest.

The CLJA: A Catalyst for Action

With eyes fixed on Washington, D.C., Chris and a team of writers, web designers, and developers worked tirelessly to launch the Camp Lejeune Claims Center, a free online educational website to help guide veterans and families.

In addition to the free resources and educational materials provided, the Camp Lejeune Claims Center partnered with top law firms that could support the tens of thousands of veterans and families who would visit the website in the coming months.

Now, just over a year later, the Camp Lejeune Claims Center has served over 150,000 veterans and families, and our trusted legal partners have already helped over 30,000 families with their Camp Lejeune claims.

RELATED: Read Chris Carberg’s article on why we exist, written on the day we launched the Camp Lejeune Claims Center.

Key Events in the Camp Lejeune Claims Center Timeline

The Camp Lejeune Claims Center is a mission-driven organization fueled by personal experience, empathetic understanding, and a relentless pursuit of justice.

Here is a look back at the events that unfolded and shaped us into who we are today:

  • July 31, 1957: John Carberg enlists in the U.S. Marine Corps.
  • November 1957: John is stationed at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for almost three months.
  • 2012: John is diagnosed with an aggressive form of bladder cancer.
  • August 6, 2012: The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 is signed into law.
  • March 14, 2017: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) acknowledges bladder cancer as a Camp Lejeune presumptive health condition.
  • November 9, 2018: John Carberg loses his battle with Camp Lejeune cancer just one day before the Marine Corps birthday.
  • November 4, 2021: Four U.S. senators introduce the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, bipartisan legislation aimed at helping veterans and families affected by the water contamination.
June 16, 2022: The Camp Lejeune Claims Center is founded by John’s son, Chris Carberg, to help other families like his own.
  • June 22, 2022: The first family seeking help contacts the Camp Lejeune Claims Center.
  • August 10, 2022: The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 (part of the PACT Act) is signed into law.
  • October 2023: The Camp Lejeune Claims Center’s legal partners help over 30,000 families with their claims.

RELATED: Get Camp Lejeune lawsuit updates and news on VA benefits.

The Life and Service of a Camp Lejeune Marine

The Carberg family has a strong military background that traces back through generations of service and sacrifice.

John Carberg joined the Marines in 1957, during the postwar United States. After completing boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, he was sent for training at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

John spent several months at Camp Lejeune and went on to Santa Ana, California, before going overseas on the USS General A. E. Anderson.

During his service, John completed a two-year contract in Taiwan and Japan before returning to San Francisco on the USNS David C. Shanks.

The Hidden Enemy: Camp Lejeune’s Toxic Water

Unbeknownst to John and his fellow Marines, the water they drank, cooked with, and bathed in while training at Camp Lejeune was filled with toxic chemicals.

The effects of Camp Lejeune’s water contamination are hard to predict, but Marines were at the highest risk. In North Carolina’s warm weather, a Marine in training might drink between one and two quarts of water per hour.

Marines were also exposed by showering up to two times per day, leading to a high daily intake of contaminated water.

John left Camp Lejeune in 1959, unaware of the impact his exposure to these chemicals would have on his life.

“After my dad left Camp Lejeune, he began feeling like he had to urinate constantly, a feeling that would get progressively worse throughout the rest of his life.

—Chris Carberg, Founder of the Camp Lejeune Claims Center

It wasn’t until six decades later that John would be diagnosed with bladder cancer, a devastating blow to the Carberg family.

Personal Tragedy Strikes

John was diagnosed with Camp Lejeune bladder cancer in 2012, the same year that the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 was passed, opening up VA benefits for those affected by the contaminated water.

Although he did well for four years, the cancer became increasingly aggressive. By 2016, John began enduring significant pain.

It wasn’t until 2017 that bladder cancer became listed as a Camp Lejeune presumptive health condition, which was right when John began getting sicker, with drastic weight loss and his body weakening dramatically.

As his dad’s health continued to decline, Chris started looking into the new VA benefits that had become available.

A Son’s Mission for Change

Driven by the need to secure future support for his mother and a growing awareness of the Camp Lejeune issue in Washington, D.C., Chris took a deeper dive into the link between his father’s cancer and his time at Camp Lejeune.

John served during a time of relative peace for our country, after the Korean War ended and before the U.S. entered the Vietnam War. For a long time, he felt guilty for not being able to fight in a conflict.

“When my dad got sick, he felt like he didn’t deserve the benefits from Camp Lejeune. He thought they were reserved for those who had served during wartime. But after speaking to other veterans and considering my mom, he changed his opinion.”

—Chris Carberg, Founder of the Camp Lejeune Claims Center

As Chris grappled with convincing his dad to seek out VA benefits, he stumbled upon scores of alarming information linking the water contamination at Camp Lejeune to numerous health issues among its former residents.

The realization that the government and military were aware of this contamination yet failed to act timely was a bitter pill to swallow.

This revelation didn’t just bring emotional turmoil — it fueled a sense of purpose in Chris.

Moving Forward: The Vision of the Camp Lejeune Claims Center

The vision of the Camp Lejeune Claims Center is to ensure all families impacted by the contaminated water have access to the information they need and can receive the support they deserve to help prevent similar disasters from happening in the future.

The Camp Lejeune Claims Center was formed when the CLJA was signed into law. Since day one, our goal has been to help others affected by the toxic water.

We aim to keep evolving, to reach as many individuals as possible, and to ensure that we provide comprehensive, reliable information.

The sincere hope is for all Camp Lejeune victims to receive the compensation and justice they deserve.

5 Tips From a Camp Lejeune Family

Chris Carberg sees his journey from personal loss to establishing the Camp Lejeune Claims Center as a roadmap for other victims.

Here are 5 tips he has for other Camp Lejeune families.

1. Seek Camp Lejeune VA Benefits

Apply for any Camp Lejeune VA benefits you are eligible for.

Without VA benefits, the cost of John’s treatments and frequent hospital admissions would have placed a significant financial burden on Chris’s parents, potentially leading to bankruptcy.

“My dad was concerned that pursuing benefits would make him a bad soldier. That guilt took a while to overcome, as it does for many veterans.”

John received disability payments of about $3,500 per month. However, when he passed away, survivor benefits were only about $1,300 per month, a significant decrease in funds for Chris’s mom.

This is why Chris and his family decided to file a Camp Lejeune claim under the CLJA.

RELATED: Learn about other Camp Lejeune veterans resources and support options.

2. File a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit

Consider filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit before the August 2024 deadline.

John was the breadwinner of his family. His passing left behind a widow in the later stages of life — and she’s not the only one in this situation.

It’s important to do what’s right for the well-being of your family.

3. Find a Top Camp Lejeune Lawyer

Hire a top-notch Camp Lejeune attorney.

“Find a trustworthy, well-respected lawyer with a history in this field. …The VA can only help so much. For Camp Lejeune victims, skilled lawyers are going to be critical.”

The Camp Lejeune Claims Center trusts the law firms we work with. We’re confident they can handle cases of this magnitude and that they genuinely care about our veterans.

On our website, people can get educated and get a free claim review to sign up with a top attorney if they qualify.

4. Be Wary of the Elective Option (EO)

Before accepting an EO offer from the Navy and Justice Department, know that it may not be the best option. You could be better off pursuing a Camp Lejeune settlement with the help of a lawyer.

“I’ll tell you, my mom and I won’t pursue the elective option. It’s not in our best interest. Absolutely not. It hardly scratches the surface of what our veterans deserve.”

The compensation offered from the EO is likely much less than the amount you could receive from a settlement — and the EO does not accurately represent the damage Camp Lejeune’s water contamination caused and the lives it ruined.

The EO doesn’t appear to represent the government’s best offer but rather a quick solution, potentially leading victims to hastily accept an unfavorable deal.

5. Avoid Camp Lejeune Scams

Be mindful of who you trust and where you send your information when pursuing a Camp Lejeune claim.

Some companies mislead Camp Lejeune victims, asking for money upfront or signing them up only to sell their cases elsewhere.

If you decide to seek help outside the VA, it is crucial to choose a transparent firm that explains who will handle your claim and how.

RELATED: Get tips on avoiding common Camp Lejeune scams.

Getting Justice for Camp Lejeune Victims

Camp Lejeune victims have been pushed aside for far too long. It’s finally time to get justice and compensation for what has been unfairly taken away from countless families.

“This is not about handouts. It’s about being compensated for what’s been taken away. I have kids; my son never met his grandfather — that was stolen from us.”

—Chris Carberg, Founder of the Camp Lejeune Claims Center

The Camp Lejeune Claims Center is deeply rooted in the compassion that comes from a son’s quest to get justice for his dad.

We are more than just an educational resource or legal aid center. We are a supportive companion, working alongside Camp Lejeune victims on their journey toward justice.

If you have questions or want to talk about your options, connect with our trained Claims Advocates right now.

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The Camp Lejeune Claims Center exists to help military veterans harmed by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune to get the financial compensation they deserve. We're ready to help you — at no out-of-pocket cost to you or your family.

  1. Bove, F.J., Ruckart, P.Z., Maslia, M. et al. Evaluation of mortality among Marines and Navy personnel exposed to contaminated drinking water at USMC base Camp Lejeune: a retrospective cohort study. Environ Health 13, 10 (2014). Retrieved November 7, 2023, from https://doi.org/10.1186/1476-069X-13-10
  2. Britannica. (n.d.) Vietnam War. Retrieved November 7, 2023, from https://www.britannica.com/event/Vietnam-War
  3. Library of Congress. (n.d.) U.S. History primary source timeline. Retrieved November 7, 2023, from https://www.loc.gov/classroom-materials/united-states-history-primary-source-timeline/post-war-united-states-1945-1968/overview/
  4. National Geographic. (n.d.) Jun 27, 1950 CE: U.S. enters Korean War. Retrieved November 7, 2023, from https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/us-enters-korean-war/
  5. United States Department of Veterans Affairs. (2021, January 24). Citation Nr: A21000114. Retrieved November 7, 2023, from https://www.va.gov/vetapp21/Files1/A21000114.txt#:~:text=Thus%2C%20the%20date%20entitlement%20arose,contaminated%20water%20at%20Camp%20LeJeune
  6. The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. (2021, May 19.) US Enters the Korean conflict. Retrieved November 7, 2023, from https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/korean-conflict


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