With the recent holiday of Veteran’s Day, we always want to remember those who served the US in the military and to honor their sacrifices. We need to remember that for many US veterans, those sacrifices have continued years after the were discharged, because they were exposed to asbestos while they served.

Asbestos exposure that occurred decades ago in the US military can haunt them later in life as they come down with terrible asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Let’s remember the sacrifices of veterans that include asbestos exposure that affects their health to this day.

Mesothelioma Affects All Branches of Service

The most common exposure to asbestos in the military usually occurred in ships and in shipyards because many people served in the Navy during the World War 2 period. However, asbestos also was used in the Army and Marines, such as in troop transports and other vehicles. Mechanics who did work on such vehicles were possibly the most likely to have suffered heavy exposure, but really, anyone who contacted the vehicles were at risk of being exposed.

Also, asbestos was often used in many construction materials on military bases both in the US and abroad. Further, asbestos was used in many military barracks and in residential housing, and sometimes in administrative offices.

How Veterans Exposed to Asbestos in the Vietnam War Can Get Covered

The levels of mesothelioma in veterans of the Vietnam War is higher than another other population group. Asbestos was used in that time to insulate and fireproof almost all types of machinery, and it was considered a very useful substance for years. Of course, exposure to asbestos is very hazardous, and many Vietnam-era soldiers were exposed.

Military veterans who were exposed to asbestos in the Vietnam War should be eligible for military benefits to pay for their medical problems, but applying for these benefits can take a long time. It is important for you to be aware of how you or your loved one can get covered for your asbestos-related medical condition:

  • Disability compensation: Disability is provided to veterans who had an injury that was related to military service. Pleural mesothelioma is an injury that is often related to military service, but vets from the Vietnam era must show that they were exposed. Compensation for this type of injury starts at $2800 per month, but it will depend upon the number of dependents you have and the severity of the asbestos related injury.
  • Indemnity and Dependency Compensation: This is provided to survivors of vets who died due to a service related injury or disease. They are able to get monthly compensation. The value of that compensation depends upon if they are not able to leave the house and if they have any children.
  • Va Health Benefits: This means that vets may receive treatment in many centers across the US for their asbestos related injury. Today there are at least 1700 sites around the US and almost 9 million vets are treated there each year.

If you were honorably discharged from the military, you qualify as a veteran. If you are a Vietnam vet, you must have served at some point in the war and have done a tour of duty there. There are several other criteria that will determine if you are eligible for benefits for your mesothelioma:

  • Your length of service
  • Whether the exposure to asbestos was related to service
  • How much you make
  • How many children you have
  • What VA sources are available in your area
  • Proof that you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma

Mesothelioma Is Handled by the VA

The US healthcare system has many problems, and veterans also are affected by this as well. Wrangling in Congress leads to poor funding for VA hospitals and the right level of appropriations so that our veterans can get the medical assistance they need.

However, mesothelioma is recognize by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Even vets who do not reside near a VA hospital can get their medical expenses paid for if the exposure to asbestos happened when they were serving in the military.

Mesothelioma Affects Veterans Today

Mesothelioma is often called an ‘old man’s disease’ and it is thought that it only applies to wars that were fought decades ago. However, asbestos exposure can still happen today.

People in the military who were deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the last 20 years actually were still at risk for developing asbestos related diseases. Asbestos still is present in military vehicles and in old buildings. Even if the soldiers were not diagnosed yet, it is possible that many people who are serving today could get mesothelioma in the decades down the line.

If you or someone you love was exposed to asbestos while in the military, you should talk to a doctor regularly to see if you are developing symptoms of an asbestos-related disease.