Living with Mesothelioma: Navy Veterans and Military Asbestos

A diagnosis of mesothelioma is an irrevocably life-changing event-one that alters not only your day-to-day experiences but the entire scope of your future as well. Receiving such news frequently produces an initial state of shock that some patients describe as an out-of-body experience or the feeling of being frozen. This very common reaction is identified as the initial stage of the grieving process. It is a normal and even healthy response to emotional trauma and can serve a psychologically protective role, giving your brain and body time to absorb and process a difficult reality.

A big part of processing this new reality is learning how to adapt and move forward. For victims of mesothelioma, the adjustment timeframe allotted is generally quite limited; but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make the most of it. Many mesothelioma victims find that knowledge is one of the most empowering tools available to them. By learning what to expect and how to best manage your disease, you can begin to move forward in living with mesothelioma.

This six-part series is dedicated to educating victims of mesothelioma about their disease and its relationship to asbestos, as well as their legal rights and various options for fair compensation. Additional Information and counsel is available at no cost by contacting the national trial attorneys of Shrader Law and Associates, LLP.

PART THREE: Mesothelioma in Navy Veterans

Military vets, especially those who served in the navy, make up a disproportionate share of Americans diagnosed with mesothelioma-one-third of total victims, which is about 1000 veterans each year. In general, occupational exposure accounts for most asbestos-related illnesses. And with the extreme popularity of asbestos as a manufacturing material-used in a wide variety of consumer products throughout the majority of the 20th century-there were millions of jobs that put workers’ health in potential jeopardy.

High-risk occupational fields included construction, automotive repair, manufacturing and petroleum-but none of those industries exposed workers to asbestos with the frequency and abundance experienced by those serving in the U.S. Navy. It can be safely estimated that virtually every navy vet serving between the late 1930s and early 1970s came into regular contact with asbestos, usually in the particularly perilous close-quarter environments on battleships and other military vessels. Fortunately, most of those exposed to asbestos do not develop mesothelioma. Navy veterans that served during the aforementioned timeframe are still, however, are still advised to undergo routine medical screening-available free of cost at VA medical centers-and to be on the lookout for symptoms of mesothelioma.

Military Asbestos Usage

The profusion of asbestos-containing materials in military settings was attributable to three factors: affordability, durability and availability. During the years between WW II and the Korean War, all branches of the military experienced an unprecedented demand for tanks, jets, ships and barracks. Supply chains were taxed and budgets were stretched by the overwhelming requirements for building materials, and asbestos-made component were both inexpensive and readily available in high volume. And asbestos on navy ships and other structures was an ideal choice, due to its sturdiness, resiliency and natural ability to resist heat and flames.

In the next section, we will cover the tragedy of mesothelioma in navy veterans at greater length by discussing options for assistance and compensation, including legal action.


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