Navy Veterans and Mesothelioma
Veterans from every branch of the military are at risk for developing mesothelioma through their exposure to asbestos during their active duty. The branch of the military with the most mesothelioma cases happens to be the United States Navy. Navy veterans and shipyard workers have shown to be the most susceptible to developing mesothelioma than those with no military history. The brave men and women of the U.S. Navy spent years of their lives serving our country while unknowingly being exposed to high levels of asbestos, now known to be deadly to humans.
Asbestos and the Military
Throughout much of the 20th century, asbestos was used in virtually every industry for various purposes. The properties inherent in asbestos made it a highly sought after and widely-used mineral. It is highly resistant to high heat and fire, as well as hazardous chemicals, and it can be shaped into virtually any form. Power plants, construction sites, shipyards and more all used asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos was used as an insulator for pipes, boilers, electrical wiring, and much more. It was also used in the lining of protective clothing worn by shipyard and navy personnel. The mineral could also be found in the mess halls, common areas, decks and many more areas aboard navy vessels.
Anyone working on the shipyard or on board a vessel was put at risk for exposure. When undisturbed, asbestos does not pose a high risk; however, once it becomes friable, which occurs when it is damaged, such as during war at sea, asbestos fibers are released into the air. This meant that anyone on board a ship that was damaged in any way was likely exposed to asbestos fibers. Asbestos was used in order to protect navy crew members from being injured during a fire, which happened often during war. However, the mineral had the opposite effect.
Navy Veterans and Mesothelioma
Unfortunately, those that manufactured asbestos-containing materials and those that bought it knew about the risks involved with exposure, yet allowed its use to continue. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not put a ban on asbestos use until the 1970s, and even then it was only on new construction. Older ships and buildings still contain asbestos. That means that up through the 1980s, navy personnel and soldiers were all at risk for exposure and the subsequent development of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma tends to lay dormant for decades and symptoms do not arise for 20 to 50 years after exposure. The symptoms often resemble those of the common cold and the disease is often misdiagnosed. Early medical examination and diagnosis is the key to a longer survival rate and possibly even beating the disease.
Since the link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma has been made clear, hundreds of cases have been brought against those responsible for putting people at risk. Thousands of navy veterans were likely exposed to asbestos at one time or another and since no small amount of exposure is known to be safe, they have the right to legal compensation. Seeing a physician, getting an examination and then speaking with an attorney about your rights is the best possible action.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about mesothelioma, fill out our veterans assistance form.