TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The diagnosis of autism and chronic brain disease has not kept Tyler resident, William McMurray, from fighting for others like him. He was born in 1982 on a North Carolina military base, Camp LeJeune, where experts and U.S. legislation acknowledge a link between living on the base and serious medical conditions.
McMurray hopes that a proposed draft bill entitled “Children of Camp LeJeune Act of 2015” will better protect and compensate others like him.
The proposed Children of Camp LeJeune Act of 2015 would give $150,000 in compensation to those who lived on the base from 1957 to 1987, a $48,000 lifetime annual pension; compensation to parents who suffered a miscarriage while living at Camp LeJeune; and includes an admission from Congress that negligent toxic exposure occurred.
The draft bill has not been sponsored by a member of Congress and was authored by disability rights attorney, Andrew Straw. Straw was born on Camp LeJeune and suffers from neurobehavioral disabilities.
“We were exposed to toxic poisons without our consent.” said Straw. “It is now time for Congress to take full responsibility for what is allowed.”
McMurray said that dry cleaner based chemicals and chemicals from a nearby gasoline fuel center contributed to toxic exposure.
“Eventually those chemicals seeped into the ground water, vapor in the air, and affected the water.” said McMurray. “They were able also to find directly a link between those and the cancers and conditions of those people."
For years, McMurray lived without knowing the cause of this medical conditions. He didn't have a true copy of his birth certificate, confirming he was born at Camp LeJeune, until he was 25 years old.
In 2009, laboratory testing found that he had higher than average levels of acetone, ethanol, isopropanol, and methanol in his blood. This medical care and treatment has not been covered by Veteran Affairs, according to McMurray.
Texas House Representative Louie Gohmert sent the following a statement in response to the proposed legislation:
“My sympathies are always with anyone who was treated improperly, especially young children. When the family reached out to my office yesterday, it was the first I had heard of this specific bill. What I have found so far is that the new bill has apparently not been filed with the Congressional Clerk, no Member of Congress from the area in North Carolina has sponsored the new bill, and I am not sure who drafted this new bill someone called about yesterday. In 2012, I voted for a bill that provided health care to prior Camp LeJeune families, but I need time to research this new bill before I can comment further on it.”
Both McMurray and Shaw said that the 2012 Jerry Ensminger Act that afforded medical benefits to Camp LeJeune families is limited in scope. It only covers those suffering from 15 specific conditions, and does not provide protected status or financial compensation to the victims.
McMurray said he will continue to fight on behalf of the those affected at Camp Lejeune by keeping them informed. He serves as the administrator for several social media sites that connects “Children of Camp LeJeune” and provides them with information about applying for benefits.
"God left me here for a reason." said McMurray. “My goal is to see people get funded what they rightfully deserve.”