Blue fir branches on a wooden background.

RI Veterans: Did you know? (Camp Lejeune, Christmas resources…), 22-12-22 – John A. Cianci

by John A. Cianci, veteran contributing writer

First – Merry Christmas to all our veterans, supporters, and readers, here!

Let’s start off with questions from a few of our readers on Camp Lejeune 

I served at Camp Lejeune during the time the water was contaminated, should I contact one of the lawyers who are advertising to represent me? – Larry, Woonsocket

With a VA accredited organization, Italian American War Veterans of the United States (ITAM) as the National Department Veterans Service Officer, our organization recommends the starting point is to file a claim with the Veterans Administration not only for the veteran, but also for a family member who could be eligible for benefits.

If you need assistance filling out the paperwork, contact a Veteran Service Officer (VSO) from one of federal chartered organizations in Rhode Island (VFW (401-223-3695), Italian American war Veterans of US (401-677-VETS (9838), DAV (401-223-3695) American Legion (401-822-1297) assisting veterans, family members, widows, and widowers with the VA claim paperwork. The VSO DO NOT charge, unlike the attorneys who will charge and be entitled to a certain percentage.

VETTIP – The Italian American War Veterans of the US assisted a qualified veteran who served at Camp Lejeune to be eligible to file a claim for a cancer currently being treated. The claim was filed less than 4 months ago, and just last week the veteran’s cancer was linked to his service at Camp Lejeune. His benefits include, but not limited, to almost $3600 a month VA compensation and all medical needs to treat the existing cancer. Moreover, the veteran’s wife is now entitled to health care with the VA.

I am a widow of a Marine veteran who died of liver cancer in 1990, am I eligible for anything thru the VA?

Since bladder cancer is one of the presumptive conditions (others: adult leukemia, aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Parkinson’s disease) it would appear you would be entitled to Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), which is monthly compensation of an estimated tax free $1400,  along with medical coverage thru CHAMPVA as a surviving spouse. 

VETTIP – File a claim with the VA, even if you don’t have a veteran’s discharge; attach to the claim a VA support statement requesting the VA’s “Duty To Assist” to obtain a copy of the veteran’s discharge papers. The phrase “duty to assist” describes the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ obligation to help veterans develop their claims.

More information from the VA website on Camp Lejeune:

Camp Lejeune water contamination health issues

If you served at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River in North Carolina, you may have had contact with contaminants in the drinking water there. Scientific and medical evidence have shown an association between exposure to these contaminants during military service and development of certain diseases later. 

If you have qualifying service at Camp Lejeune and a current diagnosis of one of the conditions listed below, you may be able to get disability benefits.

Am I eligible for disability benefits from VA?

You may be eligible for disability benefits if you meet all these requirements.

Both must be true:

You served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River for at least 30 cumulative days from August 1953 through December 1987, and you didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge when you separated from the military

And you must have a diagnosis of one or more of these presumptive conditions:

·      Adult leukemia

·      Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes

·      Bladder cancer

·      Kidney cancer

·      Liver cancer

·      Multiple myeloma

·      Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

·      Parkinson’s disease

Who’s covered?

·      Veterans

·      Reservists

·      Guardsmen

What kind of benefits can I get?

·      Health care

·      Compensation (payments)

How do I get these benefits?

·      You’ll need to file a claim for disability compensation and provide this evidence (supporting documents):

·      Your military records showing you served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River for at least 30 days from August 1953 through December 1987 while on active duty, or in the National Guard or Reserves, and

·      Medical records stating that you have 1 or more of the 8 illnesses on the presumptive conditions list (see above)

You can file a claim in any of these ways:

File a claim online on, or

Get help from an accredited representative, like a Veterans service officer (VSO), (see above for VSOs in Rhode Island) or

Get help at a VA regional office

Note: When you file, be sure to state that you’re applying for one or more of the presumed Camp Lejeune illnesses, and upload evidence (like a doctor’s report or medical test results).

Are Veterans and their family members covered for health care?

Yes. Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River for at least 30 cumulative days from August 1953 through December 1987—and their family members—can get health care benefits. They may pay you back for your out-of-pocket health care costs that were related to any of these 15 conditions:

Bladder cancer

Breast cancer

  • Esophageal cancer
  • Female infertility
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Miscarriage
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Neurobehavioral effects
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Renal toxicity
  • Scleroderma

How do I get these benefits as a family member?

You’ll need to file a claim for disability compensation and provide this evidence (supporting documents).

You must provide all this evidence:

§  A document proving your relationship to the Veteran who served on active duty for at least 30 days at Camp Lejeune (like a marriage license, birth certificate, or adoption papers), and

§  A document proving that you lived at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River for at least 30 days from August 1953 through December 1987 (like utility bills, base housing records, military orders, or tax forms), and

§  Medical records that show you have one of the 15 conditions listed above (as well as the date the illness was diagnosed and that you’re being treated or have been treated in the past for this illness)

§  And you’ll need to provide evidence that you paid health care expenses for your claimed condition during one of the time periods listed below.

§  You must provide evidence of payment during one of these time periods:

§  Between January 1, 1957, and December 31, 1987 (if you lived on Camp Lejeune during this time, we’ll reimburse you for care received on or after August 6, 2012, and up to 2 years before the date of your application), or

  • Between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1956 (if you lived on Camp Lejeune during this time, we’ll reimburse you for care received on or after December 16, 2014, and up to 2 years before the date you apply for benefits)

You may want to provide a Camp Lejeune Family Member Program Treating Physician Report (VA Form 10-10068b) – you’ll need to ask your doctor to fill out and sign this form before submitting it to us. They don’t require this form, but it can help give us important information to determine your eligibility for benefits.
Download VA Form 10-10068b (PDF)

File a claim

Fill out the Camp Lejeune Family Member Program Application (VA Form 10-10068).
Download VA Form 10-10068 (PDF)

Fax it to 512-460-5536, or

Mail it to:

Department of Veterans Affairs
Financial Services Center
PO Box 149200
Austin, TX 78714-9200

If you need help with your application, call our Camp Lejeune Family Member program staff at 866-372-1144.

What was in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune?

Two on-base water wells that were shut down in 1985 had these chemicals:

Trichloroethylene (TCE)

Perchloroethylene (PCE)


Vinyl chloride

Other compounds

Now you know more about Camp Lejeune illnesses and who and how to apply for the benefits you could be entitled to. 


Christmas Happenings for Our Veterans 

Remember Our Veterans at Christmas (ROVAC)

Hundreds of gift bags with donated socks, jackets, underwear, playing cards, games, and other items were delivered this week for the 143 veterans residing at the Rhode Island Veterans Home.

ROVAC is a giving mission was started over 20 years ago by Tony DeJesus. He has been a longtime employee of Big Blue Bug Solutions, and his mission to give back to the community’s veterans is inspiring and generous.

According to Big Blue Bug management, “Too often, many of our local veterans are left without friends, family, and gifts during the holiday season. For all they do for us, we can’t let our hometown vets go without,” said Big Blue Bug management.  

Partnering with Big Blue Bug is the R.I. Knights of Columbus collecting donation items throughout the State of RI and MA to support the annual event. 

Too often, many of our local veterans are left without friends, family, and gifts during the holiday season. For all they do for us, we can’t let our hometown vets go without. 

Next year’s drive will include not only veterans at the Rhode Island Veterans Home, but veterans at other nursing homes and assisting living facilities. Tony plans on working with the Italian American War Veterans of the US to ensure NO VETERAN IS FORGOTTEN ON CHRISTMAS.


PHOTO: John A. Cianci


Christmas Caroling for Veterans

December 25, 2022, 0845, RI Veterans Home, back parking lot (near the URI Greenhouse) On Christmas Day Team RWB, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Student Veterans of America partners in a very special service opportunity to bring some much-need holiday cheers and smiles to the 143 veterans living at the Rhode Island Veterans Home, 480 Metacom Ave, Bristol, Rhode Island.

The carolers will be allowed to carol inside visiting individual cottage unit starting at 845 a.m. All participants must have a mask and will undergo a mandatory covid pre-screening before entering the facility. 

RESOURCES & ongoing groups

Below are all of the groups the Providence Vet Center is currently offering.  As this list changes, I will provide updates. Please send me any questions that you may have, thank you for your time!

***All Vet Center Groups require that the Veteran be enrolled with the Vet Center prior to attending. To check eligibility or for questions, please contact the Vet Center at (401) 739-0167 or reach out to our Veteran Outreach Program Specialist (VOPS) via email at [email protected]***

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Group (PTSD) – 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. (Group is only active September through May)

Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) and Vietnam Veterans PTSD Group – 2nd and 4th  Wednesday of the month from 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.

Vietnam Veteran PTSD Group – 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 10:30 – 12:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Art Expression Group – Every Thursday from 9:00 – 12:00 p.m.

Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/Operation New Dawn (OND) Group – Every Wednesday from 11:00 – 12:00 p.m.

Stress Management – Every Thursday from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Low Impact Walking Group – Every Tuesday from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Guitar 4 Veterans – Every Wednesday from 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Monday Mindfulness Group – Every Monday from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Yoga Group – Every Friday from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Moral Injury Group – Every Friday from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Modern Warrior Support Group – 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 2:30 – 4:00 pm.


Discounts for Veterans


No Problem Plumbing and Heating LLC 15% military discount , ask for Ron Gaynor, (401) 568-6666. Veterans must provide proof of eligibility with a VA Card, VA ID Card, or RI State license with veteran identification.


Applebee’s – Military Discount. With more than 2,000 locations, Applebee’s is a family grill restaurant. Applebee’s gives 10% off for active duty and veteran. Last verified 07/31/2022.

Denny’s – Hartford Ave, Johnston offers 10% discount for veterans and active duty. Denny’s is a table service diner-style restaurant chain. Last verified 07/31/2022.

Outback Steakhouse – 10% Discount to active and veterans. Last verified 07/28/2021

99 Restaurant & Pub – The 99 Restaurant & Pub offers a 10% military discount to members of Veterans Advantage. Available at select locations only. Bring valid military ID



Advance Auto Parts – 10% for Active Duty, Veterans, and families. Last verified 07/28/2021

Bass Pro Shops –  Offers a 5% discount to active-duty military, reservists, and National Guard. Sign up and verify your status online or bring your military ID when you shop at your nearest Bass Pro store (source).

BJs Wholesale – Reduced membership fee. BJ’s offers all military personnel over 25% off their Membership. Last verified 07/28/2021

Lowes – Enroll in the Lowe’s Military Discount Program to activate your 10% discount – “Our way of saying Thank You” to our active duty, retired and military veterans and their spouses with a 10% discount on eligible items. Verification of your military status is fast and easy through our partner, is our trusted technology partner in helping to keep your personal information safe.

GameStop – is offering a 10% in-store military discount on all pre-owned products, collectibles, and select new products. Available to current and former military members who bring any valid proof of service or when they verify through

Home Depot – Offers a 10% off military discount on regularly priced merchandise for in-store purchases for active duty, retired military, and reservists at participating locations. Customers are required to show a valid government-issued military ID card to redeem this offer.

Kohls – 15% discount offers for active military, veterans, retirees, and their immediate family members a 15% discount on purchases made on Mondays, in store only. In order to receive the military discount, eligible customers must present proper identification along with any tender type.

Jiffy Lube – HONORING VETERANS ALL DAY EVERY DAY! – We didn’t want to wait for Veteran’s Day to express our appreciation and gratitude for your service. That’s why every Team Car Care owned and operated Jiffy Lube® service center is offering our BEST discount of 15% OFF as a “Thank You” to the men and women of our Armed Forces for their service to our country. *Disclaimer*- I.D. required. No coupon is required. Excludes batteries and brakes, alignment, and diagnostic services. Available only at 3 select locations listed below:

Tioque Ave, Coventry RI – Bald Hill Road, Warwick RI – Park Ave, Cranston RI

Michaels – offers a 15% off military discount on the entire in-store purchase including sale items for active duty, retired military, guard, reservists, veterans, and family members. How to get –

1.    Create an Account. Log in or create a Michaels Rewards account.

2.    Get Verified. Provide your military information to get verified instantly.

3.    Go Shopping! To use your discount online and in store, just sign into your account or provide your Michaels Rewards phone number at checkout.

O’Reilly Auto Parts – 10% discount on in store items for Active Duty, Veterans and families. Last verified 3/4/21.


If you are a retailer and or a veteran aware of a business not listed above, please forward to:[email protected]:  the business’s name, location, and military and veteran discount offered.

If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci, [email protected], ITAM Office 1-(401)677-9VET(9838)


To read all columns in this series go to:


John A. Cianci is a Veteran Service Officer. Retired, U.S. Army MSgt., Persian Gulf War and Iraq War combat theater.

Cianci, a combat disabled Veteran, served in Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct, and others.

Cianci belongs to numerous veterans organizations – Italian American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, United Veterans Council of Rhode Island, and many more organizations. He is an active volunteer assisting veterans to navigate federal and state benefits they have earned. He is Department of Rhode Island Department Commander Italian American War Veterans and Veteran Service Officer.

He is a graduate of Roger Williams University (BS Finance), UCONN business school* (Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans), Solar Energy International Residential, Commercial and Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems certificate programs, numerous certificates from the Department of Defense renewable energy programs, including graduate of the Solar Ready Vets Program.