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Veterans and Mesothelioma

Of all of the groups of people who run the risk of being exposed to asbestos and developing deadly mesothelioma, United States military veterans are the most in jeopardy. That’s because they were constantly being barraged with asbestos, hidden in walls, floors and ceilings.

For years, all of the branches of the U.S. military, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, mandated that asbestos be used in everything from the vehicles to protective clothing, especially during World War II and the Korean War. Asbestos exposure, the only known cause of mesothelioma, was unavoidable for millions of veterans, whether they were deployed overseas or working in the U.S. Up to 30 percent of all diagnosed mesothelioma cases are veterans.

Navy Veterans and Asbestos

Of all of the military branches, Navy veterans seem to run the highest chance of developing mesothelioma. Asbestos was used throughout Navy ships, including the galley, engine rooms, boiler rooms and sleeping quarters. For those Navy veterans who were responsible for helping to build the ships, their exposure to asbestos was commonplace. An estimated 4.3 million Americans worked in shipyards making the battleships and submarines used in the Navy. Those who worked aboard these ships were often tasked with making repairs and building items, making the asbestos fibers airborne. The sailors worked and lived in extremely tight quarters with poor circulation and ventilation. Because asbestos is a light and fluffy mineral, it can linger in the air longer than normal. That made sailors even more susceptible to asbestos exposure. Years later, government officials have found asbestos in valves, pipes, walls, floors, clothing, just to name a few.

What Did The Military Know About the Mesothelioma-Asbestos Connection?

Today, there is a growing body of evidence indicating that government officials knew about the dangers of asbestos for years before curtailing its use. In 1939, the same year that the Navy mandated the use of asbestos on all of its vessels, the Navy’s surgeon general acknowledged the dangers of the mineral. However, a widespread phase-out of asbestos use didn’t begin until 1970.

Indeed, research dating back to the early 1900s shows that close and ongoing contact with asbestos is dangerous. The first documented death due to asbestos exposure was in 1906. By the 1930s, the largest asbestos company, Johns-Manville, found that up to 30 percent of its workforce had asbestos-related diseases. In the years that following, countless scientists reported on the asbestos-mesothelioma connection, yet it was continually downplayed. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledged the problems and began regulating the acceptable levels of asbestos in products. Even though the EPA and several public-health agencies have said that asbestos is a human carcinogen, there are no U.S. laws banning the use of asbestos. Today, asbestos remains in military products that are used in the U.S. and abroad.

Veteran Assistance

For veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, there are mesothelioma special services established through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). A skilled veterans service officer (VSO) acts as an intermediary between the VA and the veteran, making getting financial assistance easier.

The Mesothelioma Support Network VSOs are trained to understand the special interests and needs of military veterans. They know how to work with the VA to ensure all veterans will get the full compensation they deserve. If you need help filing your veterans claim, we will help you with no upfront costs or risk. Contact us today for more information.

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