A Look at How Military Veterans with Mesothelioma are Treated

A recent news feature from the Huffington Post takes a look the additional hurdles faced by military veterans who are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma.  There is no question there are many ways soldiers die while bravely serving our country.  We have seen soldiers and sailors killed in firefights with an enemy, killed by a roadside improvised explosive device (IED), or killed in one of many kinds of accidents that happen all the time in what they refer to as the fog of war.

854357_battleship_wisconsin-218x300When a soldier or sailor manages to survive all of these dangerous scenarios and gets older, it would seem that the chance of dying a service-related death is over.  However, with the fact that asbestos was heavily used by the United States military, and the fact that it typically takes between 20 years and 50 years for a patient to be diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, this is not always the case.

In reality, between 100 and several thousand American veterans are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma every year, stemming from asbestos exposure during their time in service. The United States government is saying it is not responsible for that exposure. Sadly, U.S. courts are agreeing.

This does not not mean that one can’t still file a mesothelioma lawsuit after diagnosis with the deadly disease that was caused virtually exclusively by the Untied States government, but it does mean that the Department of Defense or any other branch of the Untied States government will probably not be a defendant.

Let’s look at how a typical case works to see how this affects veterans and their families.  A sailor served for four years in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War. As is typically the case, the sailor was assigned to the gunship during the last portion of the construction phase and the sea trials.  This was typical, so that the sailor would be familiar with the ship when it was finally put to sea once commissioned.  It is during this phase that sailors spent their days and nights on the boat docked at a base or shipyard with exposed wiring, exposed insulation, and construction work constantly being performed. It was during this time that they were exposed to asbestos fibers.  However, it might be 50 years before the sailor is diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma.

When that happens, he may speak with a Boston mesothelioma lawyer, but it may be difficult to sue the Navy.  This means he will have to find out who the ship builder was, and who the contractor was working on the boat during sea trials, and other defendants actually responsible, even though the Navy knowingly exposed the sailor to asbestos.

Not surprisingly, plaintiffs’ attorneys want to fix this system, but there are also attorneys who represent the big corporations that produced the deadly asbestos.  They want the United States government to pay its portion of the damages.  This is obviously not done out of a desire to help the mesothelioma victims, as it is out of desire to save them money, but in the end, it would help the veterans get a full and appropriate financial recovery.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional resources:

A Sad Truth for Veterans: Asbestos and the ‘Political Pawns’, March 9, 2016, Huffington Post, By Sara Warner

More Blog Entries:

Mesothelioma Lawsuits for Shipyard Workers, July 30, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog

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