Our nation’s military personnel – those of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard – sacrifice much for the country. They endure rigorous training, months away from family, deployment to active combat zones, exposure to the elements, physical pain, exhaustion and more to safeguard our freedoms and keep us safe.
Even after their immediate service ends, some veterans continue to pay the price for the decision to join the military: they were exposed to asbestos while enlisted, and are now dealing with long-term health impact. Asbestos-related illnesses have been seen in vets who served many decades ago (during the Korean War or the Vietnam Conflict), and for those who fought in the more recent campaigns of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
How were servicemembers exposed?
According to ample medical documentation, Naval vets seem to disproportionately suffer from asbestos-related conditions like mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer, asbestosis and more. This is likely because industrial grade asbestos was widely used in shipbuilding for fireproofing. It shows up in obvious places like engine compartments and galley kitchens where fires are most likely. Sadly, it also appears in mess halls, sleeping berths and corridors on submarines, destroyers, aircraft carriers and battleships alike.
Even though the Navy was hardest hit, the other branches of the military certainly did not escape the wide-ranging impact of asbestos products. Asbestos was used in base construction across the country (and around the world) until well into the 1980s, and is once again rearing its ugly head as old buildings are renovated or demolished. This could lead to a new generation of asbestos exposure and disease.
Furthermore, those serving in the ongoing fight against ISIS in Syria and Yemen, as well as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan could find themselves exposed to fibers coming from bomb-damaged buildings and natural deposits in the region.
Tracing the root of asbestos-related illness
Because asbestos acts on the body slowly, pervasively doing damage for decades prior to symptoms appearing, it can be very difficult to concretely “pin down” the initial exposure. A prime example of this is with the case of a mesothelioma diagnosis. This pervasive illness has a decades-long latency period before it becomes symptomatic, and even short-term exposure to relatively small amounts of asbestos could be the culprit. It can be hard to determine a point in time or a location during the past 20 to 40 years where a patient was in contact with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).
Even though treatments for conditions caused by asbestos exposure have come a long way, such diseases as asbestos lung cancer, peritoneal mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma and more are still deadly. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed, reach out to a skilled mesothelioma attorney for more information about possible legal actions.