Veterans who contracted crippling diseases after drinking, cooking with and bathing in the tainted water at a North Carolina Marine Corps base were finally granted disability status from the Department of Veterans Affairs Thursday, despite the fact that the government has known about contaminants there for decades.

The VA's decision to offer disability benefits to veterans who served at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987, when the water was supposedly contaminated with a host of toxic chemicals, capped off years of struggles for veterans and their advocates to earn such compensation.

North Carolina Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis praised the long-awaited ruling Thursday.

"The VA has conceded that it will no longer deny disability benefits to Camp Lejeune victims based on ridiculous scientific claims," Burr said.

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