Veterans and Mesothelioma
Members of the U.S. Armed Services have not only dedicated their lives to their country, but they are also unfortunately the most common victims of mesothelioma due to their increased risk of exposure to asbestos. A large number of veterans have been subjected to asbestos over the last century, and many have and will eventually succumb to mesothelioma.
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Military Use of Asbestos
Of the 22.7 million veterans in the U.S., many underwent extended asbestos exposure. The military has used asbestos in various aspects of work and construction, particularly in the areas of fireproofing and insulation. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the use of asbestos began to decrease and it wasn’t until even later that the full health effects of the material were understood. The veterans who were most exposed to asbestos fibers were those who worked in the shipyards for the Navy.
Exposure to Asbestos
Asbestos was used extensively in many different capacities beginning around World War II and leading up to the 1970s. Millions of military personnel were exposed to the toxic material every day on their job sites. Asbestos was found predominantly in shipyards and thousands of shipyard workers have gone on to be diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Not only do those who worked at the shipyards have a higher risk of this rare cancer, but also members of their family and anyone they had habitually came into contact with may have been exposed. Family members have been known to undergo secondary exposure to asbestos mainly through contact with the clothes worn by the workers.
Veterans are not permitted to seek compensation from the American government through legal means. The Department of Veteran Affairs recognizes mesothelioma as an illness which is connected with military service, and the VA provides resources and remuneration for cases of mesothelioma as well as other asbestos connected diseases. In order to receive these benefits, the veteran must prove that he or she experienced asbestos exposure while in the military. If the veterans are not able to prove that they were exposed while employed with the military, manufacturers of asbestos may be held legally responsible.
Latency Period of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is known for having a long dormancy period between the point of exposure and when the symptoms actually present themselves. Another issue is that the early symptoms of the disease mimic those of lesser conditions such as the flu or the common cold. Because of this, it typically takes a long time for the disease to be correctly diagnosed.