Mesothelioma in Veterans: Uncovering the Risks and Available Benefits

Mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, poses a significant health risk to military veterans who may have been exposed to asbestos during their service. This deadly disease is primarily caused by inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers, which were commonly used in construction materials and insulation until the late 1970s. Despite the subsequent regulations on asbestos use, many veterans remain at risk due to their previous exposure. In this blog post, we will shed light on the risks of mesothelioma in veterans and explore the available benefits to support those affected by this devastating condition.

Mesothelioma Risk Factors in Veterans

Military veterans face a higher risk of mesothelioma due to their potential exposure to asbestos during their service. Asbestos was extensively used in ships, submarines, barracks, and other military structures due to its insulating and fire-resistant properties. Veterans who served in the Navy, Air Force, Army, or Marines before asbestos regulations were enforced may have unknowingly inhaled asbestos fibers, which can remain dormant in the body for decades before causing cancer.

Common Asbestos Exposure Scenarios for Veterans:

  1. Naval Personnel: Navy veterans who worked in shipyards, engine rooms, and boiler rooms were particularly susceptible to asbestos exposure. Asbestos was used in shipbuilding materials, including insulation, gaskets, and valves.
  2. Aircraft Mechanics: Air Force veterans who maintained military aircraft and dealt with brakes, gaskets, and engine components may have encountered asbestos-containing materials.
  3. Army and Marine Personnel: Veterans serving on bases, especially those constructed before the 1980s, could have been exposed to asbestos in various building materials, including floor tiles, pipes, and wall insulation.

Available Benefits for Veterans with Mesothelioma

Understanding the serious health consequences of asbestos exposure, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers benefits and support to veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma. While nothing can truly compensate for the suffering caused by this disease, these benefits can help alleviate the financial burden and improve the overall quality of life for affected veterans and their families.

Disability Compensation

Veterans with mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure during military service are eligible for disability compensation. The amount of compensation depends on the level of disability and the veteran’s overall health status.

VA Health Care

Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma are entitled to comprehensive health care services through VA hospitals and medical facilities.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

If a veteran passes away due to mesothelioma, their surviving spouse, children, or dependent parents may be eligible for DIC benefits.

Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)

Veterans who are severely disabled due to mesothelioma may receive additional SMC, providing extra financial support.

Aid and Attendance (A&A)

Veterans with mesothelioma who require assistance with daily living activities may be eligible for the A&A benefit.

Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI)

Veterans with mesothelioma can convert their Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) to VGLI for continued coverage.

Mesothelioma remains a formidable health challenge for military veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their service. The prolonged latency period of this cancer makes early detection and intervention crucial for improving outcomes. Veterans need to be aware of the potential risks and seek medical attention promptly if they experience any symptoms related to mesothelioma.

While the available benefits and support provided by the VA can ease some of the burdens associated with mesothelioma, prevention and awareness remain the best weapons against this devastating disease. Stricter regulations and continued efforts to identify and manage asbestos-containing materials are essential to protect both current and future generations of veterans.

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