Getting help with VA benefits is the first step in seeking treatment for a mesothelioma diagnosis directly tied to military service. Unfortunately, a veteran discovering that they have developed mesothelioma after a long career in the service is a common tale, thanks to the widespread use of the causal factor of mesothelioma - asbestos - in military vehicles and production facilities across the United States for the better part of 50 years. Hailed as a miracle insulator, asbestos was used in Navy ships, Army barracks, and in just about every vehicle and building that the military felt would benefit from not only better heat retention, but additional fire-proofing. What was not initially known about asbestos is that when pieces of it are broken or damaged, they release thousands of tiny fibers into the air, fibers which can be inhaled by humans, become stuck in the body, and cause malignant mesothelioma. Now, veterans make up the bulk of new mesothelioma cases diagnosed each year, with many having served decades ago but presenting no symptoms until a sudden chest pain flares up or a shortness of breath becomes apparent. For those veterans who have contracted mesothelioma, finding reliable benefits to pay for treatment is essential, and this is where VA benefits can be extremely useful.
Several difficulties will present themselves immediately when a veteran goes to apply for VA benefits, and they may soon discover that help with VA benefits is necessary in order to help them navigate what is often a confusing set of regulations established by the VA in order to assess eligibility for compensation. It is important to understand that any veteran who has developed a condition as a result of their service in them military is entitled to compensation by the VA, but that not all conditions are considered by the VA to be "service-connected". Problems that are service-connected include things like exposure to Agent Orange or Gulf War syndrome, and special funds have been created which pay out extra money for treatment and compensation in addition to the basic VA benefit. Mesothelioma is not considered to be a service-connected illness by the VA, but veterans who have contracted this form of asbestos-related cancer can still apply for benefits and receive them under the basic VA plan. In order to receive VA benefits and access to any of the 1,400 VA treatments centers, a veteran must first apply to the benefit program either online or in person. During the application process, they must demonstrate that their illness began during the time of their service, or that their service in the military was tied to the development of their condition. Once a veteran has been approved, they can expect to receive between $200 and $2,500 a month for their treatment costs, depending on the severity of their condition and the type of treatment that is required. Veterans who are accepted into the VA benefits program are also able to choose where they would like their treatment to take place - some prefer to be treated as close to home as possible, while others want to seek out VA centers that have mesothelioma-specific programs.
In addition to getting help with VA benefits, veterans may also wish to consider a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the asbestos that they were exposed to. Some of these manufacturers have established trust funds that will pay out fixed amounts of compensation to veterans, while others will require litigation in order to receive a payment. Mesothelioma treatment typically consists of mix of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, and in many cases the VA benefits offered will not be enough to cover the entire cost. A settlement from an asbestos company can help to off-set the overall cost of treatment and also help to provide some form of accountability not only for them military, but for the companies which did not enforce proper safety procedures and that allowed hundreds of thousands of workers and military personnel to be exposed.
The world of VA treatments and facilities can be confusing and overwhelming, and if you'd like help with VA benefits, contact us today. We're proud to be working with retired Navy LCDR Carl Jewett, who is the executive director the Veterans Assistance Network. With Carl's help, we're able to offer a robust information package detailing how to navigate the maze of requirements necessary to obtain VA benefits and help ensure that you get the treatment and monetary support that you need.