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Military Veterans Asbestos Exposure

Military veterans have an out-sized risk of asbestos exposure.

Boston has a proud military history that has spanned from the days before the American Revolutionary War to the decades following WWII. This means that there are still are lot of veterans in our area, in addition to the brave men and women who served our nation before moving to the Greater Boston area.

When tourists come to our city, they often take a Duck Tour or one of the many other walking or bus tours around town and see what is left of this great military legacy. One of the more popular sites is the Boston Navy Yard, located in the city’s Charlestown neighborhood. Today, you can see and step aboard the U.S.S. Constitution, which was built in the late 1700s. This is the oldest still commissioned naval ship in the fleet. However, while the ship is currently crewed by active Navy personnel, it is really a floating museum and will not be seeing combat again.

However, for many years, the Boston Navy Yard, formerly known as the Charlestown Navy Yard, was a major hub for ship building and ship maintenance in our area. This shipyard repaired U.S. Navy ships, captured German ships from World War II, and ships form the Korean War, as well as the Vietnam War.

During these years of service, the Navy was one of the largest consumers of asbestos products, and this meant that a lot of sailors were constantly being exposed to the deadly fibers. As if this was not bad enough, they were taking the deadly fibers home to their families, where people at home were also at risk for developing malignant mesothelioma.

As our Boston mesothelioma lawyers can explain, these types of asbestos cases are called take-home asbestos cases and are unfortunately quite common.

In addition to those who served in the U.S Navy, we have also seen many cases where veterans of the Army, Air Force, Marine Cops, and Coast Guard were exposed to asbestos during their time in service and were diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma 20 to 50 years later.

How Are Asbestos Exposure Claims Unique for Veterans?

As far as mesothelioma goes, it doesn’t matter where you were working or what you were doing when you first became exposed to the deadly asbestos fibers. Once they are inhaled, or in some cases ingested, they can become trapped in a layer of tissue known as the mesothelium. Once there, they can metastasize over a period of 20 to 50 years until the disease presents symptoms that will often cause a victim to go to a doctor to find out what is wrong. As noted by WebMD, some of the common symptoms of malignant mesothelioma are as follows:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough
  • Oddly shaped fingernails or toenails

While the oddly shaped fingernails and toenails may not be something with which you are familiar, research has shown that certain nail issues and shapes can be a symptom of malignant mesothelioma.

While the disease is the same for all victims, those who are military veterans who were exposed to deadly asbestos fibers during their time in service and can prove that this caused them to develop malignant mesothelioma may be entitled to special benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). To qualify for these benefits, you must establish a disability rating from the VA in connection with an illness caused by exposure to asbestos fibers during your time in service. This can be quite complex, so the best thing you can do is to contact an experienced Boston asbestos exposure lawyer who has experience filing VA claims for disabled veterans who have malignant mesothelioma.

What VA Benefits Are Available for Mesothelioma?

The first component of the VA mesothelioma disability benefits is a monthly award for benefits. Congress sets this amount. The current amount is $3,000, but that can change at any time, so you should speak with your VA disability claims about the facts of your actual case and about what your monthly benefits should be if you are found qualified. In addition to the standard disability compensation, you may also be entitled to Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), VA healthcare benefits, and special monthly compensation (SMC). As with other federal benefits programs, your family may be able to obtain survivorship benefits. These are very important, as the victim often has a very short time left to live after being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. In fact, many victims will have less than a year to live once they first learn they have malignant mesothelioma.

What Asbestos-Related Illnesses are Approved for VA Benefits?

While we have mainly been focusing here on malignant mesothelioma, there are various other types of cancers and respiratory illnesses that are caused by exposure to deadly asbestos fibers. One of the more common asbestos exposure illnesses is known as asbestosis. As noted by the National Cancer Institute, this occurs when the fibers become trapped in a victim’s lungs and cause scar tissue to form and heal repeatedly until the walls of the lungs become thicker. This causes chronic coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pain, and may mirror the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) normally associated with smoking. It can be deadly if not treated, but in every case it can seriously diminish the victim’s quality of life.

Other disease that can be caused by exposure to asbestos fibers by veterans that are recognized by the Veterans Affairs disability program are:

  • Lung cancer
  • Bronchus cancer
  • GI cancer
  • Larynx cancer
  • Pleural plaques
  • Pharynx cancer
  • Urogenital cancer, including bladder and renal cancer.

It should be noted that while prostate cancer is classified as a urogenital cancer, it has not been associated with a victim’s exposure to asbestos by the VA. In other words, if you are a veteran and were exposed to asbestos and have prostate cancer, the VA will not likely award you any disability benefits due to this type of urogenital cancer. However, our attorneys can help give you a more concrete idea of your individual odds for compensation.

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

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