Mesothelioma in Army Veterans
The United States Army is the largest of the military branches in our nation in terms of personnel. This has historically been the case, and that means there are more Army veterans than there are in the other branches. Experts believe that roughly one-third of mesothelioma victims are military veterans, so it stands to reason that a large portion of all veterans diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma or asbestosis are U.S. Army veterans.
It is not only true in terms of number of personnel, but also the vast number of jobs in the Army in which brave men and women were routinely exposed to the deadly asbestos fibers. Our Boston asbestos exposure attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman have represented many veterans of the Army who have worked in many different military occupational specialties (MOS).When Was Asbestos Most Heavily-Used by the U.S. Army?
For the past few decades, the U.S. populace has become increasingly aware of the dangers of asbestos and how inhaling or ingesting the deadly fibers can lead to the development of malignant mesothelioma. However, this was certainly not the case for much of the last century.
For a variety of reasons, including the fact that the public had no idea of these dangers, asbestos was heavily used by the U.S. Army from the 1920s to the 1980s. It was used before that time as well, but just before WWII and through the 1980s, it was used in countless applications and put many people at risk.
During this period, it was used in the construction of barracks and other structures, the repair of vehicles and aircraft, armor equipment such as tanks, and a variety of other uses. The main reason asbestos was used is because it was very cheap to mine and manufacture into materials for the armed forces, and also because it has the remarkable ability to resist heat, fire, caustic chemicals, and electricity.Are Mesothelioma Claims for Military Benefits Complicated?
Yes – and no. Certainly, these cases can be very complicated because one must prove exposure and causation. That can be tricky in any mesothelioma claim because exposure to asbestos occurs decades before manifestation of illness.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that, while serving in the U.S. Army is much greater commitment than working a civilian job, it is still essentially a claim against an employer. That means that claimants’ first avenue of compensation will be the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
This is not necessarily a complex process, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy one either.
If you can prove you have been exposed to asbestos and developed mesothelioma based upon that exposure during your time in service, you may be able to obtain a full disability benefits rating. Currently, the amount of benefits is around $3,000 a month. However, this number can change, so you should speak with your experienced Boston asbestos injury attorneys.
It is important to keep in mind that that the Army will not accept responsibility (liability) for your mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illness such as asbestosis. The reason for this is because the companies that manufactured the asbestos products are responsible, as they are in cases dealing with civilians. For this reason, you want to make sure to seek a consultation with a law firm that handles both VA claims and product liability lawsuits.
In some cases, you may also be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Your attorney should be able to fill you in on this as well.Where Was Asbestos Used in Army Barracks?
Barracks where most enlisted men and women were housed were one of the biggest sources of asbestos exposure. This means that, regardless of your particular job in the military, you were likely exposed to deadly asbestos fibers while you were sleeping and otherwise occupying the barracks.
Some of the common sources of asbestos in an Army barracks were the tiles on the floor, wiring and wiring insulation, pipes and pipe insulation, external siding and roofing materials. This material was used because the Army needed insulation – and asbestos insulation was cheap.
The companies supplying the asbestos materials to the Army knew of the dangers of asbestos but went to great lengths to hide this information from the military and the soldiers. In some cases, they even advertised products as a safe alternative to asbestos when they knew full well they contained asbestos.
The Army, and the U.S. Department of Defense, claims it was unware of this at the time it purchased the asbestos products. Whether this is entirely accurate is the subject of some debate, but for a Boston mesothelioma case for an Army veteran, the Army is not going to take responsibility either way. However, as discussed above, the VA benefits system is a no-fault system, so the injured veteran can get benefits without needing to prove the Army was in any way responsible.
Again, you may also have a claim against the manufacturer of the asbestos products, but that is to be determined on a case-by-case basis. You should speak with an asbestos exposure injury lawyer who has experience handling both types of matters. This means that you will have someone on your side fighting for your rights to a full and appropriate financial recovery.Other U.S. Army Asbestos Exposure Sites
Another job that was particularly dangerous was that of members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. These brave men and women were doing dangerous work on the front lines of many battles. Their work included constructing bases and other structures, including major projects such as the locks on the Panama Canal. Much of the work done by the specialized division must be done right, but it also must be done quickly, and this meant that a lot of dust was being thrown around.
As we now know, much of this dust included deadly asbestos fibers. This was not only true when members of the Army Corps of Engineers were deployed, but also when they were doing construction back home. While these days, private military contractors are used quite often, everything from cooking, to laundry, to building barracks was once done by enlisted personnel supervised by officers.
This meant that there were a lot more opportunities for soldiers to become exposed to the deadly asbestos fibers. However, even when contractors were used, the area was often not secured to protect from the deadly asbestos fibers, as they didn’t know any better. This means that the military personnel, in addition to the civilian workers, were routinely being exposed to asbestos, and this would often result in malignant mesothelioma.
If you are a U.S. Army veteran who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis or other asbestos-related diseases, call our offices to learn more about how we can help you obtain compensation for your illness.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.
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