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Former drill instructor led fight for veterans' families impacted by toxic water

Jerry Ensminger
Posted at 4:27 PM, Aug 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-05 15:42:15-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After some political back and forth in Washington D.C., the Pact Act awaits President Joe Biden's signature.

The bill is supposed to help veterans affected by burn pits and other toxic chemicals.

Another part of the bill also allows for Camp Lejeune families impacted by contaminated water to sue the government for damages. The previous statute of repose for those families ended.

From the 1950s to the 1980s, people living and working at Camp Lejeune were exposed to contaminated drinking water.

For the past two-plus decades, Marine and former drill instructor Jerry Ensminger, has helped make some of the legislative changes happen.

"Well, it’s very important," he said last month of the importance of the Pact Act passing.

The KSHB 41 I-Team met Ensminger at the VFW national convention in Kansas City.

Ensminger was a Marine drill instruction for almost 25 years.

"I instilled in those kids our motto, Semper Fidelis, our slogan that we take care of our own," he said.

But Ensminger doesn't feel the Marines took care of him or his family.

His daughter Janey died of leukemia when she was nine-years-old. Janey's mother lived at Camp Lejeune when she was pregnant with Janey.

Leukemia is one of the 15 health conditions presumed to be related to exposure, according to the VA.

When Ensminger talked with the KSHB 41 I-Team at the convention, he was hopeful.

"I look forward to the day this legislation gets passed, that these people who have suffered for so long get the help or the restitution that they deserve," he said."

He said all of his work was for Janey.

"She told me before she died that she didn’t want to die because she wanted to make a difference in this world, and she’s going to through me," he said.