About 18 million living Americans have served in the U.S. military, putting their country before their own lives to ensure the freedom of our citizens. On Veterans Day this year, we honor the selflessness, courage and sacrifice of these brave men and women. To many people, their bravery means much more than a commitment to fight for our country.
Veterans Day, once known as Armistice Day, is a federal holiday celebrated annually on November 11. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) organizes several activities — including an observance ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, regional events and a poster contest — all with the goal to thank veterans for their noble service.
This includes veterans whose duties led them to suffer trauma, injuries and chronic or fatal illnesses. Some of these illnesses are psychological, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anger issues or insomnia. Some injuries have led to lifelong disabilities, while other physical outcomes are initially less apparent.
“Our law firm has represented over 3,000 veterans and we’ve employed staff who have served across all of the U.S. Armed Forces,” explains U.S. Army veteran John Simmons, chairman of Simmons Hanly Conroy. “We have attorneys in the Marine Corps, linguists who served in the Air Force, machinists who served in the Navy and nurses who served in the Army.”
Veterans and Mesothelioma
In addition to the obvious risks posed to our veterans, many are currently fighting a different battle for which they were never prepared — a battle with mesothelioma, which now threatens veterans’ lives long after their active service.
Mesothelioma, a form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, is one such disease that disproportionately affects veterans and has a latency period of decades.
In fact, nearly 33% of mesothelioma cancer diagnoses involve asbestos exposure in U.S. Navy ships or shipyards.
How Did So Many Veterans Become Mesothelioma Warriors?
During the 20th century, thousands of veterans who survived their service unscathed returned to their families seemingly healthy. Unbeknownst to many of them, a carcinogen had contaminated their bodies.
That’s because asbestos was used by the military for decades during the 1900s. Asbestos, once valued for its heat and fire resistance, durability and affordability, was used to build and reinforce ships and military bases. This positioned military members for some of the highest rates of asbestos exposure.
Before the 1980s, service members had no idea that prolonged exposure to asbestos could result in fatal health conditions — but asbestos companies did. In fact, these companies intentionally took active steps to hide asbestos hazards, leaving veterans unprotected.
The time between a person’s first exposure to asbestos and the development of mesothelioma symptoms can span 10 to 50 years. According to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, more than 40,000 Americans died from asbestos-related illnesses in 2019.
Unfortunately, many people with asbestos-related diseases mistake their symptoms for a common cold. By the time mesothelioma materializes, the cancer has already progressed too far. Few veterans who develop the disease will survive longer than 18 months.
The more proactive the role that veterans and their families play in monitoring their health, the better their chances of early diagnosis, which offers the best rate of survival.
Ways to Salute Our Veterans This Year
Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma are doing all they can to secure treatment that prolongs their survival, either through the VA benefits program, by filing a mesothelioma lawsuit or both. However, they still need the support of family, friends, caregivers and the public to get the benefits they deserve.
There are several ways to show U.S. military veterans our appreciation for their service.
Say “Thank You”
“Thank veterans. Tell them that you appreciate their service. Think today about the important role that veterans play in protecting our nation.”
– Chairman John Simmons
Donate or Volunteer
Donating to a veteran advocacy organization will make an impact on the veteran community.
To show a vet how much their service means more directly, you could write a letter or volunteer at an organization in lieu of donating.
Advocate for Veterans
Contacting local or state representatives about urgent veterans’ issues — such as poor healthcare, lack of mesothelioma research and slow progress in banning asbestos — could also make a profound difference.
Nationwide Help for Veterans with Mesothelioma
Talk to your doctor about screening options if you believe you or a loved one may have been exposed to asbestos.
You may also be eligible to file a mesothelioma lawsuit against the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products.
As a national veteran-founded mesothelioma law firm, Simmons Hanly Conroy continually aims to assist veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma to pursue the justice and compensation they deserve.
Our attorneys have extensive experience helping eligible veterans and their families secure mesothelioma settlements for the harm they endured.
Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options.