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On Veterans Day, we look to those who have served our country to be reminded of the sacrifice they gave for us. Their dedication to preserving our democratic way of life and the freedoms we enjoy on a daily basis are worth remember throughout the year, but this one day gives us time to step back and consider what that really means. For many people, the recent election solidifies that reality even more, regardless of who they voted for and the outcome that came out of it.
For many veterans, those sacrifices are still being paid due to the experiences, injuries, and other effects of their time of service. Diseases like mesothelioma can affect veterans long after they have been honorably discharged, and their exposure to asbestos while they served can become something that severely weakens their bodies later in life – and can even result in their death.
So today, while remembering the sacrifices our veterans have made for us, we wanted to step back and provide some information about how many veterans are still making those sacrifices due to the deadly disease of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma Affects Veterans from Every Branch of Service
Some of the most common exposures to asbestos are from shipyards, and because of that many people equate veterans and mesothelioma with the navy. However, asbestos was used throughout the military in many different capacities.
In the Air Force, asbestos was used in airplanes, both as insulation and in the brakes on the planes. For those in the Army and the Marines, asbestos is commonly found in other vehicles, such as transports. Mechanics and others who worked on the vehicles directly may be the most likely to have been exposed, but in reality anyone who came into contact with these vehicles and aircraft could be at risk of developing mesothelioma.
Furthermore, asbestos was frequently used in construction materials on bases, both in the U.S. and overseas. It was used in barracks and residential housing, as well as in offices and other places.
Mesothelioma Is Covered by Veterans Affairs
Our healthcare system is a mess, and that’s just as true for many veterans as it is for those of us who have never served. Bickering in Congress has led to a lack of funding and appropriations for the right level of medical assistance to take of our veterans.
However, it is important to note that mesothelioma is a recognized disease according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Even veterans who don’t live close to a VA hospital or an approved facility can get their mesothelioma-related medical expenses paid for if their exposure to asbestos occurred while serving in the military.
Other financial and legal help may be available to mesothelioma veterans as well, depending on where they worked after they were discharged.
Mesothelioma Still Affects Veterans Today
Because mesothelioma is sometimes called an “old man’s disease,” it’s often believed that it only applies to wars fought fifty, sixty, or more years ago – Vietnam, Korea, World War II, and so on. However, asbestos exposure still happens even today.
Service men and women who have been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the last ten or twenty years are just as at risk of developing mesothelioma, because asbestos is still present in many military vehicles and buildings. Even if they haven’t been diagnosed yet, it is likely that many individuals serving right now could develop mesothelioma in the future.
If you or a loved one have been exposed to asbestos while serving in the military, make sure to speak with a doctor about the effects that exposure may have had. If you believe you may have mesothelioma or are exhibiting symptoms, you can contact a mesothelioma specialist to learn more about the disease and get a diagnosis.
Thank a Veteran Today
Veterans have already made many sacrifices so that we can live in relative peace and security in the United States. If you know a veteran, thank them today for their service.