American veterans still dealing with aftereffects of asbestos exposure

Enlisting in the service is life-changing. Servicemen and women agree to put their lives on the line to protect the very freedoms that make our country great. Thankfully, the majority of our veterans make it home safe and sound following tours of duty. Some choose to make the military a career, while others pursue civilian jobs after a stint in the service.

With Veterans' Day just behind us, it is a time to thank all veterans for their service. It is also a time to remember those who lost their lives, those injured in combat and those with disabilities relating to their service.

Some disabilities and illnesses were caused by combat, improvised explosive devices (a common cause of serious injuries to troops currently stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq) or training accidents. Others, however, had different causes. Some of the disabilities and illnesses still plaguing American veterans today came as a direct result of exposure to a toxic chemical frequently encountered in their very own ships, planes and barracks. What is this toxic chemical that has taken lives and caused disease among our fighting men and women (and their families, who suffered secondary exposure)? Asbestos.

Lingering effects

Some may wonder how it is that military members alive today are still being impacted by asbestos when it was phased out by much of the military starting back in the 1970s. The fact that the discussion is ongoing gives a hint to the sheer invasiveness of asbestos fibers. Asbestos was widely used in ships, military buildings (including mess halls and barracks) and in the cargo and passenger compartments of large aircraft for decades. In some areas, asbestos was a mandatory building material, preferred because of its ability to resist fire and offer insulation against the weather.

This, of course, was before concerns were raised about its possible link to what we now know are asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma, pleural plaque and lung cancer. Even though asbestos hasn't been used as a building material for decades, it can still be present in military vessels and buildings built before that time. Older buildings are of particular concern, since any remodeling (or even relatively minor construction tasks like replacing a window or putting in a new closet) done in the last 40 years could have released fibers that had the potential to sicken occupants.

Compounding the difficulty

It can be hard to determine the exact time and location at which asbestos exposure occurred. This is because asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma, asbestosis and asbestos lung cancer have a very long incubation period. Many victims don't show symptoms until years - even decades - after their initial exposure.

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease? Do you need help navigating the complex system of seeking compensation for the harm you have suffered? To learn more about possible legal avenues for recovering compensation from those responsible for the asbestos exposure that caused your disease, seek the advice of an experienced mesothelioma attorney.