For well over a century, courageous men and women, enlisted in the Navy, have braved the seas to protect the United States; a country they are proud to fight for. Decades later, these same war heroes are fighting for their own lives as they struggle with life threatening diseases as a result to years of asbestos exposure. Navy veterans, who struggle with asbestos-related diseases, are diagnosed too late and often given a bleak prognosis, leaving many veterans feeling abandoned by the country they fought for.
Long-term Asbestos Exposure Leads to Fatal Diseases
Asbestos, a natural mineral which was mined in the U.S. between the late 1880’s through the late 1970’s, has been used in building materials such as insulation for its fireproof and insulating properties. In a solid form, asbestos is relatively harmless, but once it is broken down or disturbed, the particles and fibers can become airborne. Individuals, who have worked frequently with or have been exposed to the airborne particles, are at a greater risk of developing asbestos-related diseases. Individuals who are at most risk of asbestos related diseases, particularly mesothelioma, include construction workers, miners, and anyone who worked on or around navy vessels, such as shipyard workers and navy personnel. Navy veterans are at a greater risk of developing mesothelioma, a deadly form of lung cancer, due to the lengthy period of time spent on navy vessels in close quarters that were insulated with asbestos materials.
It’s difficult to determine just how many Navy veterans were exposed to asbestos or will be directly affected by the airborne particles. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, mesothelioma symptoms are slow to occur and symptoms often do not surface until 20 to 50 years after active duty.
What’s Next for Veterans Affected by Asbestos?
Unfortunately, mesothelioma, like many cancers, cannot be cured and is often detected after the disease has progressed to a deadly stage. Any veteran, who has worked with asbestos or in environments that may have been built with asbestos-containing materials, should pay attention to any changes in health. Asbestos-related diseases include Asbestosis, Pleural Plaques, or Lung cancers like mesothelioma. While the symptoms of each asbestos-related disease may vary, symptoms to pay attention to and seek medical attention for include, but are not limited to:
Persistent, mucus producing cough
Chest tightness or pain
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
Pain or swelling in the abdomen
If you have been exposed to asbestos and exhibit any of these symptoms, you should visit a medical professional as soon as you are able. During your visit, you will be asked how long your potential exposure lasted or how much asbestos you were exposed to. In order to make a more accurate and potentially faster diagnosis, doctors are now trying harder to understand and consider “military culture”. If you are a veteran, it is important that you discuss your military experience with your doctor. Sharing your story and the tasks you performed during your military career will help your doctor determine more about your asbestos-related illness.
You Fought for Your Country; You are Entitled to a Happy and Healthy Retirement
If you a veteran who worked with asbestos or in an environment with asbestos-filled materials, you may be suffering from an asbestos related health condition and you may not be aware of it. As soon as you exhibit any symptoms or changes in health, contact your doctor immediately. You spent many years, bravely and proudly protecting your country. You are entitled and deserve to be compensated for your any financial or physical suffering. Will you fight your battle alone or will you let thankful friends, family, legal and medical professionals fight alongside you?