Veterans made one of the most unselfish decisions possible: They put their lives at risk to protect our lives and those of our loved ones. They prioritized our safety over their own. They put their future dreams on hold so we could chase ours.
Their loved ones also deserve praise and admiration. Family members wrestled with pride and fear as their brave husbands and wives, sons and daughters, or fathers and mothers left the house to serve overseas or on military bases. That also requires bravery, as they sacrificed their comfort and peace of mind for our own.
As another Veterans Day comes, we honor these Americans and celebrate their actions. We do so knowing that the risk of their service is not finished — not yet.
Asbestos is a deadly mineral that was rampantly featured in the military. It hides in walls, ceilings, and floors. It slowly decays and turns dangerous around pipes, electrical wires and insulation. It can prevent fires, sure, but it can also cause something else: cancer.
Asbestos diseases like mesothelioma materialize some decades after exposure. The servicemembers of the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s likely didn’t learn they had mesothelioma until the very end of the 20th century — or the beginning of the 21st century. Some veterans may not be diagnosed until 2020 and beyond.
This silent killer is why the risk of service doesn’t finish once active duty concludes. Veterans have not escaped the hazard of asbestos. This truth is extremely saddening and heartbreaking, and the statistics are proof.
Veterans make up around one-third, or 33%, of mesothelioma cases in the United States. It’s the largest percentage among non-gender and non-race demographics. This cancer is largely an occupational disease, and no occupation comes close to matching the high rates of veterans with mesothelioma.
Veterans sacrificed their safety to protect ours. Thousands of them later developed a cancer for which there’s no cure. Millions of others were exposed to asbestos, putting them at risk of mesothelioma. While they didn’t develop this cancer, they still were unknowingly put in harm’s way.
So the thank you for their service comes with an apology for this terrible after-effect, because it’s not deserved. Not at all. It’s painful to know that such an unselfish act had such a tragic consequence for so many.
And that consequence also affects the veterans’ families.
They are also victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases. Their brave veterans are unable to work, face deteriorating health, and must pay exorbitant medical costs for treatment.
The emotional distress for the parents, children and spouses cannot be overstated. They lost a grandparent, parent, husband, wife or sibling far too soon. Whether their loved one passed away last year or last century, the surviving family members are still dealing with heartbreak in some form. They, too, deserve a “thank you.”
Our thank you on Veterans Day goes to all former and current military members along with their families. A “thank you” is the least we can do, as is this day of honoring and remembrance.
One of the services at Mesothelioma Guide is free help for veterans seeking compensation or other benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These options can help you and your family pay for treatment and avoid medical debt.
Our on-staff Veterans Service Representative, retired 24-year Navy Lieutenant Commander Carl Jewett, can help you file VA claims for mesothelioma. If you’d like help with accessing VA benefits, email Carl at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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