Veterans Day — a United States federal holiday held every year on November 11 — provides a chance to stop and reflect on the sacrifices men and women in the military have made for this country.
Today, we are grateful for the courage and selflessness of those who have served. They are responsible for our freedom, and the differences they’ve made are felt around the world every single day. This is especially true for older veterans who still face health issues stemming from military service, including PTSD and life-threatening cancers like mesothelioma.
Military Service and Asbestos Exposure
Our veterans made great sacrifices during their time of military service. And even those who returned home safely from danger may still be at risk.
For example, 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 dangerous dust that lingers in the air. Inhaling toxic matter in the wake of a battle can cause respiratory illnesses or cancer months, years, or even decades later.
Exposure to asbestos can lead to mesothelioma, an incurable cancer that has already taken the lives of so many veterans.
Older Veterans and Asbestos Risks
Between the 1930s and early 1980s, the U.S. government and military had no idea that asbestos was dangerous. They thought the mineral was strong, durable, heat resistant, and easy to work with.
As a result, asbestos was used in:
- Bases and other buildings
- Navy and Coast Guard ship components
- Dozens of other military assets
Mesothelioma and Veterans
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.
While the Navy used more asbestos than any other military branch, all who served when this dangerous mineral was thought to be safe is at risk of mesothelioma today. This is because it takes 20-50 years for this cancer to develop after exposure to asbestos.
Additionally, there are high-risk occupations where people put themselves at increased risk of asbestos exposure.
Notable military jobs with a risk of asbestos exposure included:
- Aircraft mechanics
- Shipyard workers
If you are a veteran who worked around asbestos during your military service — and are now suffering from possible symptoms of mesothelioma, like a cough or shortness of breath — see a doctor. Early detection of this cancer is key if you want to reach long-term survival.
Additionally, make sure to tell your doctor about your asbestos exposure history. This can help them rule out more common illnesses as the possible cause of your symptoms.
Veterans Mesothelioma Lawyers
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 access 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.