Veterans & Mesothelioma

James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C. has represented many victims of mesothelioma, a fatal cancer almost always caused by asbestos exposure. In many cases this exposure has occurred during civilian employment, but all too often, veterans have been exposed during their military service, only to develop mesothelioma many years later. Although veterans make up only 8% of the population, they account for approximately 30% of all mesotheliomas.

Asbestos was widely used in wiring, gaskets, brakes and clutches on tanks, trucks, jeeps, aircraft and other vehicles. Asbestos was also used in buildings on boilers, steam pipes and insulation. Men and women could be exposed to asbestos serving in any branch of the service, but asbestos exposure and risk were particularly high in the Navy. Asbestos was widely used in naval vessels between the 1930s and the 1970s, and exposure often occurred in small, poorly ventilated spaces below decks. Exposure was particularly heavy in boiler rooms and engine rooms, but could occur in almost any area of the ship, including navigation rooms, mess halls and sleeping quarters. It was not unusual for sailors to sleep on bunks located under steam pipes insulated with asbestos. Asbestos was commonly used in wiring, pipe and boiler insulation, gaskets, packing material, steam turbines, desalinization units, and electrical equipment.

Even sailors who did not work directly with asbestos containing materials could receive a significant exposure to asbestos if they worked in close proximity to people who were cutting, grinding, scraping, mixing or drilling such products. This is known as bystander exposure and is well recognized as a health hazard by industrial hygienists.

Mesothelioma is no respecter of rank, afflicting admirals as well as ordinary seamen. One of the most famous victims of this disease was Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., who died from mesothelioma in 2000 at the age of 79, within 6 months of going to a doctor for shortness of breath.   In its early stages, mesothelioma may be mistaken for other diseases such as pneumonia or the flu, so it is important to let your doctor   know if you were exposed to asbestos in the service.

Although the military has greatly reduced its use of asbestos, servicemen and women may still be exposed to asbestos in the course of duty. For example, veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan may have been exposed to this material when old buildings were damaged or destroyed.  If you were exposed to asbestos during your military service, and later develop mesothelioma, or some other asbestos related disease, you may be able to recover VA compensation and benefits for your service related illness. In addition, you may be able to recover compensation from companies that manufactured or distributed asbestos containing products.

James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C.  can help you and your loved ones obtain the compensation you deserve. If you have or suspect that you may have mesothelioma, contact James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C., today, at 304-347-5050 for a free consultation.  

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