Thousands of members of the U.S. military, especially those serving in the Navy or even civilians working in shipyards, have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Veterans are finding out that when they put their lives on the line during the most dangerous times in the history, they were unknowingly exposed to asbestos. Although many received benefits such as the opportunity to go to college on the GI Bill, medical benefits and the appreciation of fellow citizens, many have found out decades later that they will ultimately pay for this service with their lives. Mesothelioma and veterans have made the spotlight in the last couple of decades because of the growing number of veterans receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Mesothelioma cancer affects the membranes that surround and protect the lungs and other organs. It is usually a result of exposure to asbestos which was widely used in the navy and other military branches. Veterans are a group who are at increased risk of developing this disease and other asbestos-related illnesses. Because asbestos was popular in both military and civil industries for its valuable ability to withstand high temperatures, it was a valuable commodity for the military. Ship’s machinery was lined with asbestos as it was the ideal material for use as insulation. In fact, during WWII, naval uses for asbestos topped more than 300 different products.
Asbestos was found so useful that an order was issued in 1939 making its use mandatory in new warships. It was used throughout boiler rooms, engine rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms and almost all other areas of the ship that were likely to need special insulation from heat. Ships at this time were small and poorly ventilated and the risk of asbestos exposure and inhaling the microscopic asbestos fibers would have been high.
Once asbestos fibers became lodged in the lungs by inhalation or other organs by swallowing them, they were never flushed from a victims system. They remained inside the body cavity to later develop into mesothelioma. Veterans that inhaled asbestos have become aware decades later that asbestos fibers may have entered the mesothelium, which can cause irreversible damage at the cellular level. This takes decades to develop and over time, the victim suffers from what they believe to be cold and flu-like symptoms. By the time the disease is recognized, it is often at a later stage, leaving patients with few treatment options and a very short life expectancy. Few falling into the category of having a diagnosis of mesothelioma in veterans live more than two years even with aggressive therapies.
Victims with mesothelioma from navy backgrounds can seek legal help from a reputable law firm. There are many outlets helping veterans define everything they need regarding mesothelioma or any asbestos-related illness. After serving our country at critical times in history, veterans should be afforded the medical and legal options necessary to help them win this last combat in life.