Mesothelioma & Veterans
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers, which become lodged in the body, usually the lungs. While there are different types of mesothelioma, they are all extremely aggressive. The prognosis for patients diagnosed with any form of this disease is very poor.
About 30 percent of all mesothelioma claims are filed by individuals who have served our country in the military. Asbestos was widely used in the military from the 1930s to the 1970s, exposing millions of people to this dangerous mineral and causing them to become sick from it.
If you are a veteran and have contracted mesothelioma due to exposure during your years on active duty, there may be compensation available. A Boston mesothelioma attorney at The Law Offices of Michael P. Joyce, P.C., can help you seek it.
Contact us now for a free and confidential consultation about your best legal options.
Asbestos Exposure in the Navy
Of all service members, those that served in the Navy, the Marines, and the Coast Guard are at the highest risk for developing mesothelioma. This is due to the fact that these individuals often worked on ships or in shipyards that contained large amounts of asbestos.
Navy ships used asbestos in pipe lagging to provide insulation to pipes, in their electrical wiring, and even in the tiles used on flooring. The boiler rooms and engine rooms on these ships often didn’t have good ventilation. Due to this, sailors in these areas were often exposed to asbestos circulating in the air for several hours at a time.
Individuals working in shipyards during their time in the Navy were also regularly exposed to asbestos. These workers built and demolished ships. The moving and tearing down of all those materials would release large amounts of asbestos into the air. Ship mechanics were also exposed to asbestos as they worked on pipes, pumps, and valves.
Today, Navy asbestos exposure is not as widespread as it once was. The harmful effects of asbestos have been well-documented since 1970, and older ships and materials have been replaced with products that are newer and safer. Still, asbestos remains in some older buildings and ships so anyone in the Navy should remain aware of the risk. Also, mesothelioma often takes decades to develop. This means someone who was exposed to asbestos in the Navy years ago may be diagnosed with the disease only now.
Asbestos Exposure in the Air Force
Prior to 1980, materials containing asbestos were widely used in the construction materials used in buildings and in planes. Like other military bases, Air Force bases used asbestos products in wallboard, insulation, tiles in the floors and ceilings, pipes, plumbing, foundations, and heating systems.
Like ships in the Navy, planes in the Air Force also contained large amounts of asbestos, exposing anyone who worked on them to the harmful mineral. Planes also required sealers and adhesives when they were being repaired. Those tools also contained large amount of asbestos.
Individuals who lived on an Air Force base, even for a short time, were often exposed to asbestos because it was used in heating systems. This meant that many service members were exposed to asbestos where they lived, worked, and slept.
Asbestos Exposure in the Army
Like other branches of the military, many soldiers in the Army worked with asbestos regularly on bases and while servicing military vehicles. In the Army particularly, some civilian and military workers were exposed to extremely large amounts of asbestos. They were required to work with as much of this mineral as possible so they could fireproof and strengthen the buildings on the base.
Positions in the Army that were exposed to the most asbestos included those that worked in carpentry, construction, demolition, insulation installation, mining, fitting pipes, and servicing and repairing military vehicles. Those working with cement and drywall were also exposed to large amounts of asbestos as they mixed the compounds, releasing asbestos fibers into the air.
Asbestos Exposure in the Marines
Anyone who was on active military duty prior to the 1980s was likely exposed to asbestos. This is particularly true for those that worked on ships and in shipyards, such as individuals in the Marines.
During that time early in the 20th century, asbestos could be found widely throughout ships, being used in just about every part of them. This was due to the fact that it’s so effective at fireproofing certain areas of the ship. While on base, Marines were often exposed to asbestos, as it was used in nearly every military building.
Asbestos Exposure in the Coast Guard
Just like those in the Navy and Marines, many individuals in the Coast Guard were also exposed to large amounts of asbestos. It’s been found that people who served in the Coast Guard during World War II face the highest risk of asbestos exposure, but the exposure risk lingered for decades that followed. This is due to the fact that asbestos was a common material used to insulate boats and make them more fire-retardant.
Like other branches of the military, asbestos was also used on Coast Guard bases, particularly in the roofing tiles of most buildings. Some people in the Coast Guard also mixed cement containing asbestos while onboard a ship, often in broiler rooms and engine rooms that were not well ventilated, causing them to inhale high levels of the toxic dust.
It was the United States Coast Guard that conducted one of the first studies on asbestos, in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute. This study found among other things, that much of the asbestos exposure came from Liberty Ships, which transported important tools and materials to troops in places of conflict. The study was expanded in 2009 and was published in Military Medicine.
VA Claim Assistance for Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma isn’t just a devastating disease. It’s also expensive to treat and can become a real financial burden for those suffering from it. Veterans who contracted mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure in the military may be eligible for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
When a veteran applies for veterans’ benefits, the VA considers the veteran’s disability level to determine the amount of benefits they will receive. With mesothelioma being such a severe and tragic disease, veterans suffering from mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure are automatically given a 100 percent disability rating. Vets battling mesothelioma can receive over $3,000 a month, which is typically distributed on a monthly basis.
Veterans’ Affairs also allows for free cancer treatments to those that developed mesothelioma during their time in the military. Vets are not required to receive treatment at a VA hospital, but they do employ some of the country’s best mesothelioma specialists.
Although the VA makes it fairly easy to claim compensation for mesothelioma, there is still a lot of red tape to sort through and many pitfalls. A Massachusetts mesothelioma attorney at The Law Offices of Michael P. Joyce, P.C., can provide VA claim assistance if you are going through the process. Our attorneys can help you file your claim quickly, so you get the compensation you need as soon as possible.
Who Is Responsible for Asbestos Exposure in the Military?
It’s true that the VA can provide veterans’ benefits to help compensate for the cost associated with mesothelioma. However, even with the most generous benefits, they are often still not enough to cover the full cost of the illness. Depending on the circumstances, veterans may be able to file a lawsuit to seek more compensation.
Many vets are hesitant to file a lawsuit because they think they have to file it against their officers or their branch of the military. This isn’t true, however. When filing a mesothelioma lawsuit, the liable party is typically the manufacturer of the product containing asbestos, or companies that supplied the products with asbestos within them.
Manufacturers and suppliers have a responsibility to ensure their products are safe for the people who use them. When they fail to do so, or they fail to warn about inherent risks associated with their products, people injured may hold them liable.
It’s been shown that manufacturers knew of the dangers associated with asbestos as early as 1949. Memos were found from this time indicating that manufacturers knew asbestos was dangerous. Even with this knowledge, they continued manufacturing and distributing asbestos, without warning consumers.
Many manufacturers have already been held liable for allowing people to be regularly exposed to asbestos. Our attorneys can advise on your options for claiming compensation, including from the asbestos bankruptcy trust funds many of those companies have set up.
You and Your Family Deserve More Than VA Benefits
VA benefits can help you receive compensation for some of your losses associated with mesothelioma you developed after serving your country. However, these benefits are not typically enough, and many veterans find they need to file a lawsuit to claim the full amount of compensation they deserve.
If you want to file a claim, or need help applying for VA benefits, it’s important you speak with a Boston mesothelioma attorney today. At The Law Offices of Michael P. Joyce, P.C., we are ready to help you identify the many potential forms of compensation available to you, and help you seek the full amount you deserve.
Call us today to learn more about how we can help with your case.