Celebrating Our Veterans on the Fourth of July 2024

A sparkler and American flag next to the words "Happy Independence Day!"

July Fourth is a time for picnics, fireworks, and celebrating our liberties as Americans.

We enjoy the freedom of religion, assembly, and the press, and cherish our right to express diverse opinions.

As we celebrate these freedoms, we cannot forget to honor those who have served our country to defend these rights: the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.

A Salute to Service on Independence Day

Our brave service members and veterans have dedicated years, if not decades, to protecting and preserving the benefits that define our country.

Think for a moment about the sacrifices these patriots have made in defense of liberty. Not only have they spent months or years away from their spouses, partners, children, and loved ones, but many have also experienced the horrors of war.

Many have lost cherished friends in battle and suffered physical harm that most of us cannot even imagine.

These courageous men and women remain proud of their service to our country, with many saying they would do it again. Their dedication to the freedoms and rights of the United States of America is to be revered.

But as we honor our veterans this Independence Day, we must remember the battles they continue to fight.

Continuing Battles on the Home Front

Veterans often return home from serving with both visible and invisible injuries. While physical injuries like scars and the loss of limbs are more obvious, many of the wounds veterans bear are far less evident.

Many veterans suffer a range of health problems, including a weakened immune system, chronic pain, and respiratory issues. Veterans are also at greater risk of mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than the general population.

Additionally, those who served in the military are more likely to have heart disease and are more prone to engage in addictive behaviors such as drinking and smoking.

Veterans who had tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan also have a higher risk of skin cancer due to long periods of sun exposure.

Still, there are many additional health battles that veterans face due to their service to our country, including:

  • Mesothelioma from asbestos exposure
  • Cancer and other illnesses from contaminated water at Camp Lejeune
  • Serious conditions from forever chemicals in firefighting foam.

Asbestos Exposure & Mesothelioma

Danger asbestos sign outside old building

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Veterans are at a greater risk of developing mesothelioma due to widespread asbestos use by the military between the 1930s and early 1980s.

However, the dangers of asbestos were hidden from military service members for decades.

Asbestos is a cancer-causing material that was used by every branch of the military — but most extensively by the U.S. Navy.

Asbestos was used as an insulator in most U.S. Navy ships made during multiple military conflicts, including World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Over 33% of all mesothelioma diagnoses involve U.S. military veterans. Mesothelioma can take 20-50 years to develop and many U.S. veterans are not diagnosed until they’re retirement age — when they should be enjoying their lives with family and friends.

U.S. veterans with mesothelioma deserve high-quality medical care and financial payouts if they’ve been diagnosed.

Thankfully, veterans can file for mesothelioma VA benefits to get treated by top doctors and receive monthly compensation.

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With the help of experienced mesothelioma lawyers, affected veterans can also file asbestos claims to pursue even more financial aid — without affecting their VA benefits.

However, asbestos wasn’t the only dangerous substance that brave U.S. veterans were exposed to.

Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune

Contaminated water at Camp Lejeune

Nearly 1 million veterans, their families, and workers at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, NC, may have been exposed to contaminated water between 1953 and 1987.

The water was contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals, most notably TCE (trichloroethylene) and PCE (perchloroethylene).

Contaminated water at Camp Lejeune has been linked to many kinds of health issues, including multiple types of cancer. U.S. veterans and their families didn’t deserve to get sick simply from serving at Camp Lejeune.

Firefighting Foam & PFAS Exposure

Firefighting foam and cancer

Civilian and military firefighters routinely used firefighting foam that contained dangerous chemicals known as PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances).

In the late 1960s, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) started requiring all branches of the U.S. military to use PFAS-containing firefighting foam because of its efficiency in extinguishing high-intensity fires.

After performing examinations of more than 500 U.S. military installations in 2018, the DOD found that 401 locations had some sort of PFAS contamination in drinking water.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) performed a separate analysis, focusing on U.S. Army and U.S. Army National Guard installations, and found an additional 90 installations that had PFAS contamination.

Exposure to PFAS can lead to serious health problems like multiple types of cancer, including:

  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Thyroid cancer

Although the DOD has committed to phasing out its use of this firefighting foam, thousands of service members and veterans have already been exposed and made sick as a result.

Sokolove Law is committed to helping firefighters affected by PFAS exposure pursue firefighting foam settlements that can help pay for medical treatment, everyday expenses, and more.

Sokolove Law: Fighting for Veterans for Over 45 Years

Veteran salutes parade of American flags

There are many reasons why we can be proud — on the Fourth of July and every other day of the year — to live in a country built on the diversity of its citizens and opinions.

This trait has made us strong as a nation, resulting in technological innovations that have led to one of the world's most advanced health care systems.

There are numerous programs that offer health care resources to veterans that are struggling. But this network must be able to treat all Americans, including the veterans who have continued to make our freedoms possible.

We must ensure their access to health care and justice that can help the invisible and visible.

Our veterans must be able to enjoy the full benefits of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness they have protected for all of us.

Sokolove Law will remain dedicated to fighting for veterans. We've recovered over $9.4 Billion for those impacted by asbestos and other dangerous products.

If you are a veteran in need of help, contact us at (800) 995-1212 today. If you aren't a veteran, be sure to thank a veteran for their service this holiday and tell them how much you genuinely appreciate the sacrifices they made.

Sokolove Law Team

Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: July 3, 2024

  1. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). "ATSDR Assessment of the Evidence for the Drinking Water Contaminants at Camp Lejeune and Specific Cancers and Other Diseases." Retrieved from: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/docs/atsdr_summary_of_the_evidence_for_causality_tce_pce-508.pdf. Accessed on July 3, 2024.
  2. American Cancer Society Journals. Cancer. “Middle East War Veterans Experience Higher Skin Cancer Risk. Retrieved from: https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/cncr.29724. Accessed on July 3, 2024.
  3. American Journal of Epidemiology. “The physical and mental health of Australian Vietnam veterans 3 decades after the war and its relation to military service, combat, and post-traumatic stress disorder.” Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19564170/. Accessed on July 3, 2024.
  4. Biological Psychiatry. “Elevated Risk for Autoimmune Disorders in Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4277929/. Accessed on July 3, 2024.
  5. DAV (Disabled American Veterans). “Issue Brief: PFAS Contaminated Water on Military Bases.” Retrieved from: https://www.dav.org/wp-content/uploads/PFAS-Contaminated-Water-on-Military-Bases-2021.pdf. Accessed on July 3, 2024.
  6. International Journal of Preventive Medicine. “Veterans and Risk of Heart Disease in the United States: A Cohort with 20 Years of Follow Up.” Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4085922/. Accessed on July 3, 2024.
  7. Penn Medicine/Abramson Cancer Center. "Mesothelioma/Prognosis." Retrieved from: https://www.pennmedicine.org/cancer/types-of-cancer/mesothelioma/prognosis. Accessed on July 3, 2024.
  8. United States Environmental Protection Agency. “Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out Federal Register Notices.” Retrieved from: https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/asbestos-ban-and-phase-out-federal-register-notices. Accessed on July 3, 2024.
  9. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs/Public Health. “Camp Lejeune: Past Water Contamination.” Retrieved from: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/camp-lejeune/. Accessed on July 3, 2024.
  10. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs/Office of Research & Development. “Study Finds Uptick in Lung Disease in Recent Veterans.” Retrieved from: https://www.research.va.gov/currents/0516-3.cfm. Accessed on July 3, 2024.