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With Veterans Day having passed in November, it is important that all of our military veterans be lauded for their efforts to keep us safe from harm — which makes the freedoms we enjoy as Americans possible.
Sadly, however, many older veterans are struggling in the last years of their lives because after years of service, they were exposed to asbestos and now have been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma lawyers have seen how service in the military has turned into a struggle to breath and we worry about the future for many of our veterans. Many ships and shipyards and other military installations used asbestos for decades.
Asbestos is a natural mineral that was used for insulation on buildings, coating for pipes, in brake pads, floor and ceiling tiles and other products. It was used extensively in the United States from the early 20th Century until around 1991, when studies conclusively showed that the effects of asbestos are life-threatening.
Asbestos exposure can lead to cancerous tumors forming on the walls and lining of major organs. After years of developing, they can spread throughout the body like other forms of cancer.
Mesothelioma has no cure. Researchers know that it is caused by exposure to asbestos, but they don’t know how to cure people who have it. In fact, it’s deadly 100 percent of the time. And given that a person can be exposed to a small amount of asbestos and live with the cancer for 30 years without knowing it, linking sickness to exposure can be challenging.
National Public Radio recently interviewed a veteran suffering from mesothelioma. Frank Currie, a Navy veteran who was stationed at Pearl Harbor, witnessed the attacks aboard the USS Tennessee.
He said he saw the USS Arizona get hit with a bomb and shoot 12 to 15 feet in the air. He said he wishes he could forget the death he witnessed that day, but he can’t.
And along with suffering haunting memories of one of the darkest days in U.S. history, Currie suffers from mesothelioma. The article doesn’t say whether his mesothelioma was a result of his service in the U.S. Navy, but many Navy veterans have made the link.
No segment of the population has been hit harder from mesothelioma than our veterans. The Navy was one of the largest consumers of asbestos, using its fire-resistant nature to ensure that large fires didn’t break out in ships, causing them to sink.
But those who were around the flaky mineral may have survived their tour of duty only to realize decades later that nights working in boiler rooms or around other equipment inside a ship may have led to their death.
Our veterans should be honored all year, not just on one designated holiday. And they certainly deserve to be able to live healthy lives after serving, unlike many who have mesothelioma as a result of their service.
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