The link between mesothelioma and veterans is well-established. A naturally occurring fibrous silicate, asbestos was used by the U.S. military for many years. A material used in manufacturing, asbestos was popular for many things, including its cost, heat resistance and strength.
Sadly the dangers of asbestos weren’t acknowledged until the 1970’s, when it stopped being used in the military. Despite this, asbestos is still found in some military and other structures including wall insulation, ships, ceilings and cement foundations. From the 1930’s to the 1970’s, all mesothelioma veterans that are victims were exposed to asbestos materials of some sort, whether it was the foundation in shipyards or the insulation in planes and buildings. It wasn’t just laborers and soldiers who were exposed, but military personnel like officers, doctors and others may have received secondary exposure. Veterans might only make up 8 percent of the U.S. population, but they account for 30 percent of all mesothelioma deaths in the U.S.
Who In the Military is at Risk of Becoming a Mesothelioma Veteran Patient?
Each branch of the military has its own risks for asbestos exposure:
Navy veterans had the most exposure to asbestos out of any other branch. As a result, they represent the highest number of mesothelioma cases. Most Navy ships built from 1930 to 1970 contained several tons of asbestos insulation in them, from the ceilings to the boiler room.
Army veterans also faced exposure to asbestos due to it being used in ceilings, walls and flooring of military garrisons. During the late 1990’s, 32 Army sites were closed or moved due to asbestos contamination. This proved to be a major environmental undertaking which eventually cost approximately $1 billion to clean up.
Even though other branches of the military had more asbestos exposure, Air Force veterans are still in danger. Those Air Force personnel who served from 1947 through 1980 have the threat of asbestos exposure. In addition, Air Force veterans may have been exposed to asbestos in their living quarters and on the job. At particular risk were mechanics that came into contact with asbestos in aircraft engines.
Marines were exposed to asbestos in airplanes and armored tanks which were both used for transportation and training exercises. Marines were mainly exposed to asbestos on ships, which they shared with Navy personnel. A 2007 report recognized the occurrence of asbestos and other toxins in building on Parris Island, where most Marines went through boot camp at. The report described plans for the removal of asbestos materials, but by this time, numerous Marine personnel had been exposed.
What’s the Risk to Veterans of War?
Mesothelioma veterans who experienced foreign conflict overseas face a particular asbestos danger. Many countries had buildings that contained asbestos and veterans who lived, slept or spent time in these buildings could have been exposed.
The bombing or demolition of buildings in overseas combat may have even exposed veterans to asbestos.
Where Can I Obtain Mesothelioma Treatment?
As a mesothelioma veteran, you should consult a doctor or health care professional immediately at your local Veterans Affairs clinic. Even if you don’t have mesothelioma symptoms, it is crucial to do this. More than 1,600 VA medical centers exist across the country.