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A Comprehensive Guide to Help Veterans with Asbestos-related Lung Cancer

Posted on 19th September, 2019

by Legal Staff

Over 25 million U.S. military veterans are currently alive. These brave men and women selflessly served the nation in times of war and peace. Though all veterans knew the dangers of facing their enemies, very few understand that their working environment would have increased their risk of developing deadly diseases from asbestos exposure. Asbestos was of great value because of its fire and heat resistance and was used widely in the products employed by the military until the 1970s. The material was found in almost everything ranging from military vehicles like tanks, ships, and the construction materials used to build the military bases.

The dangers of asbestos exposure are currently well known, but for most of the 20th century, the veterans were regularly exposed to asbestos unknowingly. They served in the military in conditions that were dangerous to their health because of high levels of asbestos contamination.

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the veterans who were serving in the following occupations may have been exposed to asbestos:

  • Demolition of old buildings
  • Construction and carpentry
  • Manufacturing and installing products such as roofing and flooring
  • Mining
  • Milling
  • Shipyard work
  • Insulation work

In addition to the first-degree risk of exposure, secondary exposure is also likely in those who do not work directly with asbestos but work in places where other people handled asbestos. For instance, if an electrician worked in a shipyard, he would be exposed to asbestos used in the shipbuilding materials.

The U. S. Navy strongly relied on asbestos for its materials. During the 1930s, all of its ship's insulation, as well as paint and lagging (insulation surrounding the heating components), were made of asbestos. Naval yards that were filled with these construction materials contained dangerous levels of asbestos fibers that were inhaled by people working there on a daily basis. By the time the U. S. Military started decreasing the usage of asbestos in the 1970s, thousands of veterans were exposed to the carcinogen and had begun developing asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma.

There is a higher rate of lung cancer diagnosis among veterans as a result of asbestos exposure and the risk to active military members continues. Lung cancer has been a leading cause of death among military veterans.

Watch Out for the Following Signs and Symptoms

Typically, lung cancer shows symptoms only when the disease is in advanced stages. The symptoms in its early stages largely go unnoticed. The signs and symptoms that should be taken seriously, particularly, by those who have been exposed to asbestos include:

  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Hoarseness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing up small amounts of blood
  • Change in a chronic cough or developing a new cough
  • Headaches
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to consult your physician right away.

Steps to Be Taken by Veterans Suspecting Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos-related lung cancer and other diseases may take as long as 15 years or more to develop, but if you or your family member was a veteran, he/she is likely to have been exposed to asbestos, and therefore, the following steps should be taken.

  • Seeking medical attention: Veterans who suspect asbestos exposure during their service should consult their primary care physician to discuss symptoms and reach a diagnosis. If you are a smoker and you believe that you were exposed to asbestos, you need to quit smoking immediately. The combination of smoking and asbestos exposure is quite dangerous and greatly increases your chances of developing lung cancer.
  • Legal considerations: If you have been diagnosed with lung cancer or any other asbestos-related disease, and believe that you were exposed to asbestos during your military service, you may have a legal claim. You should contact an experienced paraprofessional legal assistant as soon as possible to find out more about your eligibility status . Such legal claims are bound by statutes of limitations that may vary by state, which means that at a certain point, your claim is going to expire if not acted upon. The statutes of limitations period will be counted from the time you have been diagnosed, therefore, ensure that you consult an experienced case manager as soon as you receive the diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease.

Veterans are eligible to receive Veterans Affairs disability compensation benefits as well as health care benefits if they are suffering from health problems caused by asbestos exposure during their service in the military. The dependents, survivors, or family members of the veterans are also eligible for VA benefits. For more information and free case evaluation, feel free to contact us anytime.