Military veterans are among those with especially high rates of malignant mesothelioma – but why?
The answer lies in asbestos’ fire retardant and insulating uses, and thus its extensive use by the military in ships, aircraft, and construction, before it was restricted for its deadly cancer-causing properties. Veterans today make up one-third of mesothelioma cases due to their heavy exposure in many aspects of military service and warfare.
Of those, Navy veterans make up the largest segment.
Since the 1930’s, asbestos was used extensively in numerous industries where insulation and heat-resistance were needed, both in industrial and home applications.
Asbestos is today classified as a known carcinogen by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other regulatory agencies, and its use is limited, although not prohibited, in the United States. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, and its use was widespread for its properties in preventing fires and in insulation – which made it ideal for all kinds of construction.
Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by microscopic fibers of asbestos. When airborne, they can lodge in the lining of the lungs and other organs. Mesothelioma generally takes decades to develop and is not curable, although progress continues in developing new and better treatments.
In the U.S. military, virtually all 20th-century built ships and submarines were manufactured with asbestos, making the risk not only to veterans who served on those ships, but also those who were involved in dozens of occupations in shipbuilding or repair.
Additional areas in the military which used asbestos extensively included aircraft, buildings, bunkers, tanks and other vehicles’ brakes and engines, and more areas too numerous to list. All branches of the service used asbestos in widespread applications, and thus military veterans are at a higher risk of contracting mesothelioma.
Another reason some veterans are at risk is the prevalence in Vietnam, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan, of asbestos in local construction, and thus battlefield exposure to airborne particles during and after bombing. Certain military occupations also carry a higher-than-average risk, which includes shipyard workers, mechanics, pipefitters, demolition workers, and others.
Additionally, since military training leads to certain related civilian careers, it is a given that many military veterans who worked on asbestos construction projects also worked with asbestos after their service.
Veterans from any branch of the military – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard – can find mesothelioma resources from services available through the Veterans’ Administration (VA). Services can cover health care, medical assessments, mesothelioma treatments, disability payments, pensions, and more.
The VA recognizes mesothelioma as a disability, and it must be documented in order to receive compensation. Other qualifications apply.
Veterans are also urged to look at their eligibility for trust fund payments that were established to compensate those suffering from the disease, as well as pursuing civil legal claims.
The guidance of a Philadelphia asbestos lawyer well versed in the complexities of mesothelioma cases is highly recommended, in order to access all available resources and secure the maximum compensation to treat your illness.
If you are a veteran who believes your mesothelioma was the result of asbestos exposure during your military service, contact the Pennsylvania mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler for a free consultation to discuss your case. We proudly represent clients across Pennsylvania, including those in Philadelphia, Delaware County, Chester County, Philadelphia County, and New Jersey. Please complete our online request form or call us at 215-569-4000.