Army Veterans and Mesothelioma
The United States Army is the largest and oldest branch of the United States Armed Forces. Due to the amount of soldiers and veterans from the Army, it may be safe to assume that during the height of asbestos use between the 1940s and 1970s, a large amount of Army soldiers were exposed to the dangerous substance. Because of asbestos’s cheap cost and ability to shield both heat and fire, it was a sought after building material by the military and was used for insulation in both military buildings and ships.
Many members of the U.S. Army were exposed to asbestos in military buildings, including mess halls and barracks. Those who traveled and fought abroad may have been exposed on naval vessels, an area of the military that saw a high demand for asbestos use.
Asbestos is known to cause many serious diseases of the lungs, including increased risk of lung cancer and asbestosis. Another deadly disease caused by asbestos exposure is mesothelioma, a form of cancer that has been linked only to asbestos exposure. The progression of these diseases quickly leads to life-threatening complications.
Mesothelioma affects the lining around certain organs, causing it to inflame and produce tumors. Unlike some forms of cancer, mesothelioma is very hard to treat and is most often fatal. Many of the victims die within a few years of diagnosis. Due to the popularity of asbestos with the military, it has been estimated that nearly 30 percent of veterans who served between the 1940s and 1970s may have been exposed.
Veterans and current members of the Army are not allowed to file a lawsuit or make a claim against the military for injuries such as asbestos exposure. However, they may utilize the Department of Veterans Administration which provides benefits for veterans and their families, often in the form of medical care and disability compensation.
Army veterans who are suffering from mesothelioma should know that they are not alone. Along with veterans, many workers and contractors from the private sectors have also been exposed to asbestos and have come together to form communities and volunteer groups whose goals are to bring awareness to the problem of mesothelioma and asbestosis. The communities can be found in your own neighborhood or online in forums and chat rooms. Many of these groups share tips on living day to day with the disease, while others are there for the families and caregivers. No matter your involvement, there are people out there who share your burden and who are willing to offer help when you need it most.