AVON PARK, Fla. (WFLA) -- Tara Craver of Avon Park is becoming a familiar site at busy intersections outside V.A. facilities. She protests what she believes is unfair V.A. treatment of marines and their families.
"They killed my husband," said Tara.
Her husband Karle was a marine, stationed at Camp Lejeune in the 70's. His is one of the many faces of Camp Lejeune, the site of one of the largest mass contaminations in American history. From 1953 to 1987, an estimated 750,000 marines, their families as well as base employees were exposed to cancer causing chemicals in their drinking water.
"They didn't contaminate themselves, the government did and they kept it hid for two or three decades. They kept it hid," added Tara.
Doctors diagnosed Karle with esophageal cancer in January 2014. He died 10 weeks later.
Karle passed well before Tara heard that the V.A. rejected his claim that his cancer was connected to Camp Lejeune.
An expert the V.A. relied on wrote there was a less than 50/50 probability contaminated water caused Karle's cancer. That doctor is an internist in California.
Karle's personal board certified oncologist wrote there was at least a 50/50 chance or better it did.
Its website states the V.A. provides cost-free health care for certain conditions, including esophageal cancer, to veterans who served at least 30 days of active duty at Camp Lejeune. That's as much responsibility as it is willing to shoulder in this case.
"I've lost my husband, I've lost my home, I will not lose my dignity," she explained.
So Tara wages her lonely struggle at busy intersections, hoping the V.A. hears her message.
"That they accept what they have done to these families and these veterans and to love their veterans like their veterans love their country," Tara said.
If you have something that you think needs to be investigated call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1-800-338-0808.
- Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
- Thousands of Tampa Bay area students to march for change
- Rowdies name 12-year-old cancer survivor as 2018 official anthem singer
- Organizers hope to draw half a million to gun control rally
- Dolphins freed from ice blockade in Canada