Remembering the Risks of Service on Veterans Day 2019

war veteran standing in front of an old building

On October 26, 2019, U.S. Special Forces conducted a night-time raid in northern Syria that led to the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State (IS). Not a single American soldier was killed, and the military dog that was injured during the operations is going to make a full recovery.

The brave soldiers who carried out the perfect strike are the pride of the U.S. military, the tip of a spear that finds its strength in every man and woman in uniform. Everyone deserves credit — from the intelligence operators that located al-Baghdadi, to the helicopter mechanic making sure the team flies safe, to the military spouses taking care of family life back home.

On this Veterans Day, be sure to thank those who served. They are responsible for our freedom, and they make a difference around the world every single day.

Operation Inherent Resolve Continues to Defeat the Islamic State

The death of al-Baghdadi marks a new low point for the terrorist organization that has been in decline for several years. At the height of its power, IS controlled cities and territory throughout Iraq and Syria, and had begun to spread its violent influence to North Africa, the Philippines, and around the world.

IS recruited widely on social media, drawing young and impressionable people from around the globe into a life of murder and slavery. They kidnapped and beheaded anyone who would not swear allegiance to them.

For a time, it seemed like the Islamic State would continue to grow. But those days are over, thanks in large part to the U.S.-led international coalition known as Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR). Since 2014, the task force has coordinated military action against the Islamic State, which is only crumbling faster with its leader now gone.

It was revealed that U.S. Army General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, named the operation that led to al-Baghdadi’s demise after Kayla Mueller. Mueller, a humanitarian worker from Arizona, was imprisoned, tortured, and sexually assaulted by al-Baghdadi himself. She died in IS custody in 2015.

Conflict Rubble and Asbestos Exposure

Some of the video from the raid which netted al-Baghdadi has been made public. Fearing that the main entrance was booby-trapped, Special Forces blew up part of the wall to the compound where the IS leader was hiding. Though the tactic was successful, the soldiers who dashed through the dusty smoke of that explosion put themselves at risk for disease.

“Conflict rubble” is the term used to define the damaged structures and pulverized building materials that are left over after battle. All sorts of toxic materials are used in construction — metals, silica, asbestos and other synthetic fibers — and when buildings are destroyed, it generates tons of toxic dust that lingers in the air.

For soldiers and civilians involved in rescue efforts, this conflict rubble poses a serious threat. Inhaling toxic particulate matter in the wake of a battle can cause respiratory illnesses or cancer long after the battle is over. Exposure to asbestos, for example, can lead to mesothelioma, an incurable cancer that has already taken the lives of so many veterans.

Mesothelioma and Veterans

For much of the 20th century, the U.S. military used asbestos extensively. The mineral is strong, durable, heat-resistant, and easy to work with. Asbestos was incorporated in brakes, boilers, and sprayed as insulation by the ton in navy vessels.

By the time the dangers of asbestos were understood, generations of military service members had been exposed. The result has been tragic. In the United States, roughly 30% of those diagnosed with mesothelioma are veterans.

Although members from every branch of the armed services are at risk for asbestos exposure, those who served in the Navy are at the highest risk. Additionally, there are high-risk occupations where people put themselves at increased risk of asbestos exposure, including boilermakers, aircraft mechanics, shipyard workers, and others.

Veterans Mesothelioma Lawyer

Because veterans have been so impacted by mesothelioma, the U.S. government has set aside resources to help. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help veterans file asbestos-related claims and secure additional VA benefits.

At Sokolove Law, we have been helping veterans with mesothelioma secure the resources they deserve for over 40 years.

We are grateful for the service of the nearly 20 million Americans who count themselves as veterans. Our country would not be where it is without them. Happy Veterans Day.

Author:Sokolove Law Team
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: November 8, 2019

View 3 Sources
  1. Department of Veterans Affairs, “Veteran Population Infographic.” Retrieved from Accessed on November 7, 2019.

  2. Department of Defense, “About CJTF-OIR.” Retrieved from Accessed on November 7, 2019.

  3. The Guardian, “Kayla Mueller: Baghdadi Operation Named After ISIS Hostage Who Was Killed,” Retrieved from Accessed on November 7, 2019.