Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Many Veterans Exposed to Asbestos and living with possible Ailments

battleship_asbestos_diagram



The twentieth century brought us the start and end to many wars for Americans, all of which were fought mainly overseas. In that time many soldiers were killed or brought back injuries through their sacrifice. Much of the military returned healthy. But this does not mean there are not a variety of issues if you dig a little deeper. One often overlooked issue is mesothelioma cancer, which results from asbestos exposure.

Roughly 30-40 percent of all reported mesothelioma patients in the United States are former members of the military.  Asbestos is an excellent fire retardant that in many ways protected veterans throughout the years. In addition to being dangerous if the fibers are ‘lose’ and breathed in, it is fairly cheap and effective. This fiber was used in every branch of the military up until the late 1970’s and was specifically valuable to the Navy, which used it in engine and boiler rooms and other areas below the deck for safety reasons.  It was used in the tools they used and the rooms where they slept.

In particular, veterans who served from the 1930s and 1970s have the greatest risk of getting mesothelioma, with the disease not settling in sometimes up to 50 years after asbestos exposure.

Pursuing compensation for mesothelioma and other breathing ailments that can result is not easy. VA Claims sometimes can help but you must prove that you were only exposed while in the military. The military does not list mesothelioma as a service-related disease. Some think that the Obama Administration will push through policies to make the VA Claim process easier. Another avenue to take is to sue the manufacturer of the product (not Uncle Sam) but litigation is typically tough because diagnosis often occurs many years after exposure.

It is safe to say that asbestos is one of the worst corporate catastrophe’s of the 20th century because manufacturers knew about the dangers since the 1920s and the mesothelioma survival rate equating to almost certain death within a short time (varies but typically within a couple years). The full breakdown of mesothelioma facts is interesting, to say the least. Most Americans think that asbestos is an old issue but veterans are still reporting cases at a frequent pace, reminding us of era that brought many wars and poor industrial standards.

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