For many veterans, danger is a relic of the combat zone, a distant memory rarely accessed. However, for some of our dedicated servicemen and women, a new kind of danger can begin 20 to 50 years after returning home.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer connected with exposure to asbestos. Due to its latency period of several decades, the development of disease is mostly unexpected. As a result of asbestos exposure while serving, a disproportionate number of our veterans are at risk for developing mesothelioma. In fact, one third of the 3,000 Americans who develop this cancer every year either served in the Navy or worked in shipyards.
Asbestos, which is a naturally occurring mineral, was, until very recently, heavily used in construction and shipbuilding. Due to its insulation and heat resistant properties, there was virtually no place on a ship where asbestos was not used. Our Navy personnel has reported not only working around asbestos in boiler and engine rooms, but also sleeping under white dust falling from the pipes above their bunks.
Because mesothelioma is quite difficult to diagnose, we would like to encourage all veterans to inform their healthcare providers if they have ever been in contact with asbestos, even if it was many years ago. An earlier diagnosis generally affords more treatment options with a better prognosis. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation is available as a free resource for anyone affected by this cancer. Read more information about mesothelioma specific to veterans.
This Veterans Day, the Meso Foundation honors the brave men and women who served in the U.S. armed forces. We admire your service, sacrifice, and courage. Thank you.