Asbestos mines, asbestos processing plants and households are not the only place where asbestos exposure could take place. Based on statistics, close to 30% of the asbestos exposure cases are witnessed with people who have served in military, navy, air-force, etc.
Millions of people have served in various US armed forces and many of them were exposed to asbestos during their duty. This was during the time period when asbestos was considered very valuable for military because of its fireproofing and heat resisting properties. Many veterans got exposed to asbestos after world war II till 1970s when it was decided to phase out the use of asbestos. The risk was not only in military but also to navy as ships used high levels of asbestos in them and many people working on them got heavy exposure to it.
Mesothelioma and veterans
As with any mesothelioma patient, the key issue is the late detection of the disease. Initial symptoms of mesothelioma are that of any common disease and thus are generally ignored. It can take upto 15-20 years for the symptoms to be detectable by the patient. Unfortunately, by then the disease crosses initial stages which in many cases leads to weak prognosis.
Some common mesothelioma symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
- Shortness of breath
- Night sweats
Most of the above are generally taken as symptoms for cold, influenza, and other common diseases.
If any veteran has these symptoms, and if he has slightest doubt that may have been exposed to asbestos while duty, it is best to get a complete check up done to be sure. An early detection can significantly improve the prognosis.
Who were at biggest risks of asbestos exposure
While asbestos was prevalent in throughout, asbestos products were most common in ships. Based on information available on ships fabricated between 1930-1970s almost every part of ship has asbestos and thus could prove potential health hazard. It is no surprise that navy officials and crew are one of the worst affected by mesothelioma. Such was the extent of asbestos usage that it was found in boiler rooms, cabin rooms, decks, sleeping cabins and even in mess halls.
How veterans can claim benefits and support
The way veterans can apply for benefits in case of mesothelioma or asbestos related disease is different from others. While others have to file a lawsuit against the company to claim compensation, veterans can apply for Veteran Affairs (VA) benefits. What is required for such a claim is:
- Proof that the patient is indeed suffering from asbestos induced disease. Note that there are disease such as lung cancer etc. which can be caused due to asbestos and without it too. Thus it becomes important to establish the cause.
- Veteran also need to provide proofs that the exposure indeed happened during military service. This is again a critical factor, because asbestos exposure can happen even at home, or if ones house is near a asbestos mine, or by using machines etc, with friable asbestos. Many veterans also join other jobs after serving the nation and thus have to prove that the exposure did not take place at other places.
Currently, the US department of Veteran affairs recognizes asbestos induced disease, such as mesothelioma as a service related condition. But to claim its benefits, proper procedure etc. has to be followed, Mesothelioma attorneys can help patients in this.