The impact of asbestos exposure on World War II veterans was enormous, and ultimately set the standard for federal recognition of the damage done by asbestos to members of the military. There is a long latency period for diseases related to asbestos exposure; twenty to thirty years for asbestosis and forty to fifty years for mesothelioma, the malignant cancer caused by asbestos fibers. World War II veterans developed these diseases well after leaving the service; in fact the average age for a person diagnosed with mesothelioma is sixty five. So the Veterans Administration didn’t have to deal with large numbers of veteran asbestos cases until the 1970s, when asbestos was finally declared a carcinogen.
Veteran Disability Benefits for Asbestos
For many years the VA refused to acknowledge the connection between asbestos exposure in the military and the development of asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma among veterans. Finally they were forced to do so, simply by the magnitude of the numbers. It is estimated that one third of all mesothelioma diagnoses are made on people who are military veterans. Today the VA will consider disability status for a veteran who had contracted one of these diseases if the veteran can prove that he or she was exposed to asbestos on active duty; and that the exposure may have led to the current medical condition.
At one time the military also insisted that veterans with mesothelioma have no other record of asbestos exposure, but that rule has been relaxed to some degree. Today veterans with asbestosis have been granted partial or complete disability, while veterans with mesothelioma related to active duty asbestos exposure are almost always granted complete disability. That is not terribly important to most veterans since the average survival time after mesothelioma diagnosis remains at less than two years.
Veteran Healthcare Benefits for Mesothelioma
The VA has been forced to revamp its medical services over the past twenty years because of the large number of veterans returning from foreign deployments with head injuries, gross trauma to appendages from roadside bombs and mines, PTSD, and toxic exposures. The military has invested in its VA medical facilities in recent years and while they are still overloaded, several of them have become respected medical specialty centers.
One of those specialties is cancer. Veterans with mesothelioma are often directed to care at a facility where there are oncology specialists so that proper care can be provided, even though the only treatment possible for mesothelioma is palliative. Other facilities have respiratory clinics for veterans who suffer from asbestosis or some other service-related condition that requires respiratory treatment and therapy. Once a veteran with asbestos cancer or an asbestos disease has achieved disability status these treatment options are available.
Veteran Compensation for Mesothelioma
Veterans with mesothelioma or asbestosis cannot sue the United States for the harm that asbestos exposure in the service has done them, but they can take legal action against the asbestos companies that manufactured those products which caused the asbestos damage. Thousands of veterans have done so and the asbestos companies have paid out billions of dollars in settlements.
If you are a veteran of any service branch who has developed an asbestos related disease, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact our office for a confidential review of your case, conducted by one of our attorneys at no charge.