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Mesothelioma in Marine Corps Veterans

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) has a proud tradition of taking the best men and women our country must offer and training to them to be the finest marines in the world. The Marines have a reputation for being the first to fight and have worked hard to maintain that brave tradition.

Many Marines have paid the ultimate price in service to the nation. While a lot of these injuries and deaths were inflicted in battle or training exercises and were immediately evident, some of the deadliest encounters were not apparent until many years later. We’re talking about asbestos exposure.

Brave Marines were unknowingly being poisoned and would not find out about it until years later, when the resulting illness and diseases were in the later stages. Exposure to this toxic substance has meant thousands of Marines were later diagnosed with conditions like malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and more.

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Our Boston asbestos exposure lawyers at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman have worked with many of these brave veterans from the USMC and the other branches of our armed forces. We know how devastating the disease can be to veterans and their families.

That’s why we work so hard and fight for your rights to a full and appropriate financial recovery. Most cases involve assisting clients with filing or appealing benefits claims with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Others involve product liability lawsuits against asbestos product manufacturers.

While the VA is there to help, it is often very difficult to get an award of benefits for mesothelioma, even though there is no question that you or your family member meets the criteria. The criteria for obtaining a VA disability rating for mesothelioma are as follows, according to VA regulations:

  1. You must be a veteran of the U.S. armed services who was discharged for some reason other than dishonorable.
  2. You must have been exposed to asbestos during your time in service.
  3. You must have an asbestos-related disease connected with that exposure.

The first element is fairly simple. Most people do not receive a dishonorable discharge even if that discharge was less than honorable. The military will often discharge someone who has had disciplinary issues by adding a code to the discharge record that states a reason, but this is not the same as dishonorable discharge in many cases.

The second element is also generally straightforward, as most Marines who served between the 1920s and the 1980s were exposed to asbestos. Our attorneys may need to delve into your service records to ascertain the specifics.

Finally, you will need in hand a diagnosis of an asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung cancer. This sounds obvious, but defendants in these cases will often argue against causation. Defendant will say either the patient was responsible for his or her own condition due to personal choices, such as smoking cigarettes. Or a defendant may argue the asbestos exposure occurred elsewhere. Proving causation is a critical element in these cases, and our mesothelioma lawyers are committed to helping make that connection to help you obtain compensation.

How Were U.S. Marines Exposed to Asbestos?

In proving asbestos exposure and causation, attorneys may need to research extensively historical and government records, including contracts with asbestos product manufacturers and assignments of duty for specific servicemen in those locations.

The first thing to understand is that many members of the USMC were assigned to duty aboard U.S. Navy ships, as well as at various bases across the globe. It is well established that virtually every ship in the Navy had large amounts of asbestos used during the construction of the ship.

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There were also constant repairs occurring during this time that exposed Navy sailors and Marines to the deadly asbestos. In addition, many of the gun boats in the U.S. Navy used asbestos material as wadding material when firing deck guns, and this resulted in asbestos dust literally being blasted all over the ship.

Additionally, some of these ships had massive 16-inch cannons that would shake the ship to the point where insulation and even paint was falling off the walls and covering the crew and even their meals. While many people are aware that asbestos can be deadly when the fibers are inhaled, as the US. National Library of Medicine discusses, there is a serious risk of mesothelioma and other types of cancers when asbestos fibers are ingested.

Other Marine Asbestos Exposure Sites

While being stationed on a Navy ship was a sure way to be exposed to deadly asbestos fibers, there are many more opportunities for a Marine to become exposed. One of the common military occupations was anything working with vehicle maintenance. Over the years, the Marines have used tanks, Humvees, jeeps, and trucks ranging from small box trucks to massive tractor-trailers. Everyone has probably seen a heavy cargo truck with a canvas top that is designed to carry troops.

During much of the last century, asbestos was heavily used in the automotive industry. This included gaskets, valves, hoses, brake shoes and other brake parts and just about every other part on a car or truck. These vehicles needed constant maintenance, and it is the Marines who are trained to do this work. The military is generally not in the business of sending vehicles to the shop to repaired, especially when they are deployed in theatres around the world. When Marines were performing this work, they were constantly being exposed to asbestos dust, and, if they were working at a base near their homes, they were often taking this deadly asbestos dust home to their families, where other family members could also be exposed. This is known as a take-home asbestos case.

In addition to working in vehicle repair, anyone who served on an armored vehicle was also at a serious risk for being exposed to deadly asbestos fibers. When you are on a tank, it is very heavily defended, but it is not impossible for a round to pierce that armor and enter the vehicle, where it could cause a fire. There are few things one could imagine that would be worse than being trapped in a tank that was on fire. Another way a fire could start involves the fact that Marines are firing large, heavy, and often explosive cannon rounds in confined environment.

These days, the tanks feature gas-based or chemical fire suppression systems that can instantly put out a fire. However, for many years, asbestos was heavily used in tanks to prevent fires. It was even common for a woven asbestos blanket to be stored on board to throw over a fire. Just the mere presence of the blanket resulted in exposure to the deadly asbestos fibers.

The same was true for those who worked around aircraft. While the Marines do not have a fleet anywhere as large as the U.S. Air Force, there were many aircraft, including planes and helicopters, used by the Marines that contained the deadly asbestos fibers. Asbestos was used on aircraft as often as it was used on motor vehicles.

Anyone who was involved in working on these aircraft was at constant risk of asbestos exposure.

U.S. Marines veterans who have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness should contact an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to discuss the potential for legal action.

Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.

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