MECKELNBURG COUNTY, N.C. — A few months after Congress passed the PACT Act allowing veterans and their families exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune to sue the federal government, the Veterans Administration is now warning the military community about a rise in scams targeting them.
Timothy Walker is a proud marine who served in the early 1990s. When he sought medical attention for the chronic pain in his feet and knees, the VA denied his claims, saying his conditions were not a result of his service.
Walker turned to an attorney for help, who he feels ultimately took advantage of him and wound up costing him almost $6,000.
“You get angry, you do get angry,” he said. “Some type of honor or integrity, the same type and integrity that we had in the military.”
Joe Alexander, affectionally called Big Joe, joined the army in the Korean War era. He said an attorney just stopped working on his case for medical assistance.
“I felt like ... didn’t nobody want to help me,” Alexander said.
Both Walker and Alexander felt unfairly treated while trying to get their benefits. It’s something they don’t want for those who may just be starting the process.
The recent passage of the PACT Act now allows veterans and their families claiming they were exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune to sue the federal government.
The Better Business Bureau said veterans need to be cautious about who might be soliciting them for business, especially advertisements making promises.
“Veterans are always a targeted group anyway,” said Tom Bartholomy with the BBB.
The BBB is also seeing an increase in phishing scams that come in the form of texts, emails and social media posts claiming to help Camp Lejeune veterans and victims.
Veteran advocates in Meck County share what to look out for
Frustrated during their own battles to get benefits, both Walker and Alexander sought help from Mecklenburg County’s Veterans Service, where a team of dedicated veteran reps, many of them veterans themselves, took their case for free.
That same resource is available for veterans who may have claims under the PACT Act.
“There are veterans that we constantly hear of being taken advantage of, so our job is really to reach out to those veterans and offer the assistance,” said Scott Garlow, Veterans Service Director.
Alexander is close to getting his case resolved.
“I’ll be very happy. I know my wife will be happy too. I made it, I finally got it,” he said.
After six years, Walker just won his case -- finally getting the money he needed and is now passionately advocating for other heroes.
“They have this service in Mecklenburg County. It doesn’t cost you a thing, so if I can just get the word out on that, maybe stop someone from making the same mistake,” Walker said.
(WATCH BELOW: Area vets stationed at Camp Lejeune seek reparations for toxic water exposure)