Veterans Continue to See Effects of Asbestos Exposure

It’s been decades since many of the men and women being treated at the country’s VA hospitals have seen action, have lived aboard a U.S. Navy ship, or have flown planes for the U.S. Airforce. But just about any veteran will tell you that the years they served are permanently etched into their memories, whether those years were in a time of peace or a time of war.

Veterans Still Seeing Effects of Asbestos ExposureSome of them came home with visible injuries and even lost limbs. Others came back to the U.S. with issues like PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder, caused by the terrors of war and the horrors of seeing friends and/or civilians killed or maimed. Still, others returned from their military duties seemingly healthy, only to discover decades later that exposure to asbestos during their years of service would result in a diagnosis of dreaded diseases such as mesothelioma cancer.

At last count, more than one-third of all cases of mesothelioma in the United States were diagnosed in individuals who served in the U.S. Navy or who were civilian employees for that branch of the military.

That’s because – all the way up until the late 1970s and into the early 80s in some instances – asbestos was a component in dozens of products used aboard ships. Those who built those ships, as well as those who sailed on them, were regularly exposed to the toxin.

Individuals who served in other branches of the Armed Forces were also subject to exposure. At Army camps, the barracks, mess halls, kitchens, and other structures were often filled with asbestos-containing products, such as insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, siding, and much more.

In the Air Force, pilots and airplane mechanics were exposed to asbestos while performing regular maintenance on the planes they flew, which often contained asbestos-coated brakes and clutches as well as other friction components.

Sadly, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been historically slow in assuming responsibility for health conditions caused by asbestos and other toxins, including Agent Orange, used during the Vietnam Conflict. Even now, with the VA recognizing pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, restrictive lung diseases such as pleural plaques and pleural thickening, interstitial pulmonary fibrosis (asbestosis) and cancers of the lung, airways, digestive and urinary tracts (except prostate cancer), it can still be difficult for veterans to get the benefits they deserve, especially if they can’t prove that their diagnosis was caused by asbestos and that the majority of their exposure happened during active duty.

Of course, the U.S. military cannot be sued for asbestos exposure but veterans with mesothelioma can indeed talk to an experienced asbestos lawyer about other options for obtaining compensation through asbestos trusts or suits against companies that manufactured the asbestos products used by the military.

Those interested in learning more about their options should visit an attorney for more information.