Mesothelioma is caused primarily by prolonged exposure to asbestos. For decades, innumerable United States military personnel have been subjected to the risk of asbestos exposure, due to the extensive utilization of the deadly mineral post World War II. Of all the demographic groups in the country, the veteran population has experienced the most severe repercussions asbestos exposure. Due to unavoidable circumstances and lack of knowledge about the dangerous effects of asbestos, veterans who served during World War II and the Vietnam conflict felt the most serious implications of the naturally-obtained fibrous mineral. The use of asbestos was especially prevalent in the shipbuilding industry due to its fire and heat proof qualities, and cost-effective nature. It was also widely available, easily obtainable and had solid insulation properties. Due to this, about 4.3 million American workers toiling in World War II shipyards were at a grave risk of developing asbestos-related ailments. Navy veterans were at the highest risk of developing mesothelioma since asbestos was primarily used in various areas of the naval ships including boiler rooms, galleys and engine rooms. Though boiler men and firemen were vulnerable to inhaling/ingesting asbestos, the laborers who built /repaired the ships were even more susceptible to the harmful effects of the toxic mineral.
There have also been instances of military base personnel developing mesothelioma by second-hand or indirect asbestos exposure. Family members of veterans have suffered from the cancer due to indirect exposure to asbestos fibers via the personnel's clothes, hair and other belongings. Since mesothelioma is a long latency period cancer (the cancer can lie dormant for decades before the first real symptoms start appearing), many veterans who served from the 1950s to 1970s are only now experiencing the deadly aftermath of asbestos exposure. Though there have been advancements in the field of mesothelioma treatment, the overall prognosis of the cancer still remains abysmally low. This can be attributed to the fact that the early symptoms of mesothelioma are often mistaken for other common ailments and by the time the disease is correctly diagnosed, it has already reached its advanced stage. Another factor is that owing to its long latency period, mesothelioma is generally only diagnosed in individuals above the age of about 50 to 60. At that age, individuals are already suffering from other health issues, which make them resistant to aggressive mesothelioma treatment options. Mesothelioma-affected veterans can apply for Veterans Affairs benefits subject to the fulfillment of all criteria mentioned by the body. At the onset, the veteran must provide a solid proof that the mesothelioma is caused due to asbestos, and also that exposure to the mineral occurred when the individual was still in military service. If the individual has difficulty in establishing that the asbestos exposure was exclusive to their military service, he/she can seek assistance from an expert mesothelioma lawyer and seek compensation from asbestos manufacturers to fund their treatment. Presently, the United States Department of Veteran Affairs classifies mesothelioma as a service-associated medical condition. Despite this, if a veteran has been diagnosed with mesothelioma (which is almost always due to asbestos exposure) his/her claim may not be approved by the VA due to several reasons. To know more about mesothelioma veterans' benefits as well as information about other financial support resources for veterans, please fill out this form.