Hagel, Defense secretary nominee, pledges more help at Lejeune

February 10, 2013 

Republican senators opposing the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense have criticized some of his previous stances on involvement in foreign disputes and other global issues, but on a question from North Carolina’s Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, he gave a good answer that should please many former military personnel in the Tar Heel state and others who served at the Marine base Camp Lejeune.

A controversy over compensating military families who may have been exposed to contaminated water and contend they and their loved ones suffered greater instances of cancer has been ongoing. N.C.’s Republican Sen. Richard Burr and Hagan have been their advocates, seeking medical coverage for them. The exposure took place from 1957 to 1987, and now there is evidence from federal scientists that other water systems may have been contaminated as far back as 1953.

In Hagel’s confirmation hearing, Hagan wanted to know his position, and the decorated Vietnam veteran told her he would be unbending in an effort to help those families. In making that promise, and the forcefulness with which Hagel delivered it, he certainly earned credibility in North Carolina.

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