Physical and emotional aliments of veterans deserve the highest quality care. Throughout the twentieth century, asbestos was used extensively in the armed forces, especially in the Navy shipyards. Sadly, many of these men are now paying with their health for their honorable service time, as the dangers of asbestos begin to appear decades later. Asbestos lung cancer is almost exclusive caused by mesothelioma, which is an aggressive form of cancer that leaves many patients with less than a year to live. The warning signs of mesothelioma typically remain dormant for approximately 20 to 50 years; prognoses, therefore, often leaves veterans with few options for treatment. It is believed that 26% of all mesothelioma patients are former sailors and shipyard builders. Survival rates are often short.
Asbestos was once hailed a miracle mineral because of its strength, pliability, and resistance to heat, fire, electricity, and chemicals. In the armed forces, the Navy used asbestos heavily in shipbuilding as insulation, for pipe coverings, gaskets, felts, meters, deck coverings, adhesives, and anything that needed to withstand the heat of the engines. Sadly, most of the asbestos filled cramped quarters were unventilated, thus endangering the servicemen daily. Although it is now known that the Navy did have knowledge of the dangers posed by asbestos – as stated in a medical bulletin produced in 1922 – the demand for ships outweighed the developing concerns of asbestos exposure. While prevalent in the Navy, members of the Merchant Marines and the Coast Guard also suffered from working on ships infested with asbestos. In addition, the Air Force too had asbestos products, like parts in the engines and the brakes of the aircraft. Mechanics that serviced those planes may have been in contact with disturbed asbestos daily. Soldiers in the Army were also exposed to asbestos in insulation of the buildings in which they worked. As the buildings aged, so did the asbestos insulation which could crumble and become respirable. It was not until the mid-1970s that the United States government decided to regulate the levels and amounts of asbestos exposure. Historically, every branch of the Armed Forces were exposed to asbestos to some extent, some more than others.
Read more in the book “Surviving Mesothelioma and Other Cancers: A Patient’s Guide“
Diagnoses of mesothelioma typically leave patients with medical bills, lost wages, travel expenses for medical treatments, mental health needs, pain and suffering, and potentially funeral expenses. You and your loved ones may decide to seek compensation for these expenses. As a veteran you have legal options for the danger that your time in service placed you in. Veterans Helping Veterans is one organization that has found success gaining legal assistance and representation for those suffering from mesothelioma.
These are only a few examples of legal support systems. The United States Department of Veteran Affairs can assist you further to discuss your options for seeking the compensation that you and your loved ones deserve. Understandably, this is a difficult diagnosis to learn of; however, taking the best medical and legal steps towards planning for your future are the only active options that you have. You honorably served your country, and you should not have to pay with your health and your financial stability.
Mesothelioma VA Claims
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is primarily caused by asbestos exposure. Throughout the twentieth century, the United States Armed Forces used asbestos products extensively, because of its natural strength and resistance to heat. Hundreds of thousands of veterans were exposed to high levels of asbestos during their service, especially those in the Navy. It is estimated that 26 percent of all mesothelioma cases stem from the shipbuilding industry, shipyard workers, or the sailors on the ships themselves filled with asbestos materials. Although prevalent in all branches of the Armed Forces, it is known that over 300 asbestos products were used on ships in the Navy.
Asbestos fibers, when inhaled or ingested, can become lodged within the tissue (the mesothelium) lining the body’s internal organs, most commonly the lungs, however the heart or the stomach can also be affected. The fibers cause scarring which develops into cancerous abnormal cells that can divide uncontrollably. Sadly, the warning signs remain latent for decades before surfacing, thus many diagnoses are clinically declared in the later stages of mesothelioma.
Read more in the book “50 Frequently Asked Questions on Asbestos and Cancer“
Not all veterans are aware that medical conditions related to their service may be treatable free of charge. Many claims made in connection for mesothelioma and the military require the proof to support any exposure. Records must be presented that prove that the veteran was exposed to asbestos during service. Depending of certain criteria, the amounts of health coverage, and compensation, pension, survivor’s benefits will be decided upon approval. Unfortunately, the VA system has been notoriously complex, which makes receiving benefits challenging. The triage system that the VA uses, ranks veterans on a scale of 1-8, 1 being of utmost importance. Mesothelioma veterans are not even on the scale, which oftentimes leaves them waiting exorbitant periods of time before receiving health care services.
Currently, the VA does not recognize that mesothelioma is a service-related medical condition, unlike the Gulf War Illness. However, just like those wounded in war, these servicemen diagnosed with mesothelioma are equally entitled to VA benefits. More than 30 percent of Americans suffering from mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos during their military service. If your VA application of a veteran with mesothelioma, that individual is awarded with Disability Compensation. Once approved, the veteran will have hundreds of medical centers from which to choose, as well as a large variety of treatments.
However, there are some organizations that attempt to help veterans to file the paperwork necessary for the benefit program. Veterans Helping Veterans, and Cancer Watchdog are both free organizations that cater to veterans and their loved ones during their time in need after a mesothelioma diagnosis. These two outlets have found much success in the past with ensuring proper treatment and medical care is offered to veterans suffering from cancer from asbestos exposure during their service. While they can not guarantee any promises, nevertheless they may be able to expedite the process. Mesothelioma is a disease that typically has a poor prognosis, there may not be much time to waste. File your claims and learn more about the benefits you deserve.