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Janey Ensminger: A Daughter’s Tragedy. A Father’s Crusade

Janey Ensminger: A Daughter’s Tragedy. A Father’s Crusade

It the spring of 1983 Camp Lejeune Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger’s six-year old daughter, Janey, was diagnosed with Strep throat. In the fall of 1985, she died. The cause: a disease called petechiae, which caused her blood platelets to be so low that blood was coming out under her skin. She essentially hemorrhaged to death. Grief-stricken, Jerry didn’t even know why. He wanted answers and none were given. It wasn’t until 1997 – three years after Jerry retired from the Marines – that he happened to see a local news broadcast that changed everything.

“I was coming out of the kitchen with a plate of spaghetti in my hand to watch the evening news when the reporter on TV said that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry had just released a report on Camp Lejeune and the chemicals which had been found in the base drinking water could possibly be linked to childhood cancer, primarily leukemia. I dropped my plate of food onto the living room floor, Janey was the only one of my four children who had been either conceived, carried, or born while living at Camp Lejeune. Of course, my first thoughts were of Janey, but later that evening I began to think of all the other people who had been potentially exposed at Camp Lejeune who were now literally spread out all over the world. How many of them were still seeking their own glimmer of hope for their own nagging question of what happened to me or what happened to my loved one(s)? I knew right then and there that the only way those people would ever have a chance of finding out was for me to push for answers and do everything I could to make sure they got notified.”

Following years of probing, digging, and seeking answers, Jerry finally made progress. On July 18, 2012 the US Senate passed a bill called the Janey Ensminger Act authorizing medical care to military and family members who had resided at the base between 1957 and 1987 and developed conditions linked to the water contamination. The bill lists multiple ailments caused by the contaminated water supply at Camp Lejeune during 1953 – 1987: Esophageal cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, multiple myeloma, renal toxicity, female infertility, scleroderma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lung cancer, bladder cancer, leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, hpatic steatosis, miscarriage, and neurobehavioral effects.

For more information on this ongoing tragedy, visit: The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten.

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