My dad, U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) John Carberg, was diagnosed with aggressive bladder cancer in 2012.
Over the next six years, my dad would face countless treatments, surgeries, infections, and hospitalizations related to his bladder. No matter what we did to try and help him, the cancer was always one step ahead of us.
At that time, there were news stories about some kind of water contamination at the Marine base at Camp Lejeune. I hoped maybe there would be something available to help him. I realized Dad had served at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina before deploying overseas. Dad is a Marine (not was) and very proud of that fact. He was concerned that seeking out benefits would make him a bad soldier. That guilt took a while to overcome, as I know it does for many veterans like Dad.
Trying to Find the Answers
I did what every child often does for their parents. I googled everything I could about Camp Lejeune, but the stories were hopeless — the VA denied claims, no benefits for vets with bladder cancer, among other presumptive issues.
Dad’s health deteriorated over the following six years, and finally, in 2017, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began to acknowledge bladder cancer as a presumptive issue. Dad’s urologist investigated and said he believed Dad’s situation was directly tied to toxic water exposure.
Dad’s own memories also played into this as he wrote to the VA about his condition. He remembered that after leaving Camp Lejeune, he was suddenly met with a new lifelong battle of bladder issues and a constant need to urinate. I was able to help him get some disability benefits, but they didn’t last long.
By 2018, Dad was in rough shape and went through unimaginable pain from his disease. He moved over to hospice at the end of October, where we had a beautiful pinning ceremony. While in hospice, my father was relieved of duty, one of the most gut-wrenching moments of our lives.
Dad passed away from his bladder cancer on November 9, 2018, just one day before the Marine Corps birthday. Semper Fi.
Putting Action to Our Words
As a long-time health and policy advocate, my passion has always been to help innocent people who’ve been harmed. I thought our story was over. But now, with the proposed bipartisan Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, we have renewed hope.
I founded the Camp Lejeune Claims Center to educate veterans like my dad and families like mine about their available options. In some cases, that may mean filing VA claims, but for others, it may mean filing legal claims as allowed by the new law.
Whether you are a veteran battling a health issue linked with your time at Camp Lejeune or are a spouse, child, or loved one of a veteran, there is helpful information available for you.
Our loved ones don’t have to die in vain. Let’s carry their legacy of service forward. We work with a national network of incredible advocates who are deeply passionate about helping veterans.
– Chris Carberg, Founder, Camp Lejeune Claims Center