Mesothelioma and Marine Corps Veterans
Marines have a long and proud tradition of honor and service to their country. Though they are the smallest branch of the United States Armed Forces, they are regarded by many as being one of the toughest and most disciplined in direct combat. However, for many of the Marines serving between the 1940s and the late 1970s, one of the deadliest foes they faced was not on the battlefield, but lay hidden in their barracks and vehicles. The enemy was and is asbestos, and Marine veterans who served between the 1940s and the late 1970s ran a high risk of being exposed.
Because of the mineral’s heat and fire resistant properties, asbestos was used in abundance with building materials such as piping, tiles, concrete, and sheetrock. These materials were used in military supply buildings, ships, and even the barracks that the soldiers slept. Unlike their civilian counterparts who only worked around the deadly substance, many soldiers literally worked, ate, and slept around it all day long.
While the U.S. Navy probably had some of the highest exposure rates to asbestos, the close working relationship between the Marine Corps and the Navy means that members of the Marine Corps often served beside the Navy on aircraft carriers and transport ships. Asbestos was used near the engines and the boilers of ships as well as the general insulation and other construction materials. This means that during the height of asbestos use, many Marines were just as susceptible to exposure as members of the Navy.
Asbestos exposure can form into a variety of health problems, all of which prove to be incredibly hard to treat and are often deadly.
Asbestos has been known to increase the risk of all types of cancers. People who smoke and have been exposed to asbestos may have a higher risk of the development of lung cancer.
Asbestosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs that occurs after a long-term, heavy exposure to asbestos. Symptoms include shortness of breath and can lead to respiratory failure.
Asbestos exposure can also lead to mesothelioma, a form of cancer that develops only from exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma is an inflammation of the lining that surrounds many of the body’s vital organs. Mesothelioma is incredibly hard to treat and many victims die within two years of diagnosis. However, mesothelioma has been known to take decades after exposure to develop, so many of the veterans from between the 1940s and 70s may now only start to notice symptoms.
While civilians who were exposed to asbestos and have developed mesothelioma or other asbestos related diseases can seek legal compensation through the courts, members of the United States Armed Forces are not allowed to bring legal action against the military for such damages. The best that is provided for veterans through the military are Veterans Administration (VA) benefits. While these benefits will provide for much the veterans needs, it can sometimes be difficult to receive, especially when dealing with asbestos exposure due to its once prolific use.
If you or someone you love served in the Marines and has been exposed to asbestos or been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you are not alone and you do have a course of action. While you may not seek compensation against the Marines through the courts, you may be able to file for Veterans Administration benefits.
It is also very important to realize that as a mesothelioma sufferer, you are not alone. In recent years, more information has become available about this deadly disease and many victims and their families are coming together to form support groups, both in person and on the internet. The victims vary in age and background, but many are veterans and many of them share the same burden and the hope for a cure.