Unfortunately, thousands of veterans have found themselves exposed to materials containing asbestos during their military career. Asbestos, which was commonly used due to its resistance to heat, was a highly valued asset in the military. In fact, asbestos was a vital material for the military until its use declined sharply during the 1970s. The majority of military groups used the substance as a form of insulation. Over 300 asbestos-containing products were used, mostly in the Navy, from the 1930s until the 1970s.
These asbestos materials were commonly used within boiler and engine rooms and other areas that needed to be fire resistant and well insulated. Those Navy personnel who worked below the deck were more heavily exposed to the material, although all sailors were at risk since asbestos was also found in sleeping quarters, mess halls, and navigation rooms. Objects such as gaskets, cements, adhesives, pipe coverings, and valves all contained the dangerous substance.
According to available mesothelioma statistics, a high number of individuals with the condition acquired the cancer during periods of prior military service. Because of common military practices, veterans who served in the military between the years 1940 and 1970 are more likely to be at risk for developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related conditions than civilians. In addition, individuals who worked in the Navy, particularly in the shipyards, have an even greater risk of going on to develop this deadly disease.
Veterans are able to apply for VA or Veteran Affairs benefits for diseases relating to asbestos exposure. However, they must have proof that they have the disease from asbestos exposure that took place during their service in the military. If veterans cannot prove their asbestos exposure was confined to their military service, Veterans Affairs will not be able to provide any compensation. It is important to keep in mind that even if the veteran is diagnosed with this cancer, it is not guaranteed Veteran Affairs will approve the disability compensation claim. It is also initially difficult to receive a mesothelioma diagnosis, as many of the symptoms may indicate other conditions or remain latent for extended periods of time.
Furthermore, because the Feres Doctrine does not allow individuals to seek compensation from the U.S. military through legal action, veterans have no remaining methods of collecting government aid if the VA fails to offer assistance. Therefore, the best way for veterans suffering from mesothelioma to earn the compensation they deserve is by seeking it directly from the companies that produced and sold the toxic materials. A lawyer experienced with winning veteran asbestos exposure remains the best method of recovering compensation.
Because these symptoms may overlap with other disorders, it is common for mesothelioma to be misdiagnosed. When this occurs, the cancer often has the opportunity to spread from the point of origin to other areas of the body. The most common of the asbestos cancer, pleural mesothelioma, generally presents itself with symptoms such as night sweats, fever, and coughing, which can be misdiagnosed as influenza or pneumonia. Treatment for mesothelioma can vary significantly. When the disease is diagnosed late, there are few options for treatment. For the most part, treatment at later stages is only used in order to make the patient more comfortable and improve his or her quality of life.