Deadly Cancer Disproportionately Affects Our Veterans

Veterans DayFor 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.

Memorial Day 2013

MemorialDay2013Memorial Day is the time when we honor those who served our country and paid the ultimate price for our freedom. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation honors those men and women who lost their lives as a result of their service, including those who served in the military and succumbed to malignant mesothelioma.

“In honor of those who have fallen victim to mesothelioma and for those who have been exposed and may develop mesothelioma in the future, the Foundation dedicates our efforts to continuing to fund peer-reviewed medical research that we hope will lead to prevention, early detection, more effective treatments and eventually a cure,” said General H. Steven Blum, a member of the Board of Directors of the Meso Foundation.

One third of mesothelioma patients are veterans, and were exposed to asbestos during their time of service. Those who serve in the military often go on to careers in the public sector serving as policemen, firemen and first responders where they again suffer the insult of asbestos exposure.

General Blum last served as Deputy Commander, U.S. Northern Command in addition to serving as Vice Commander, U.S. Element North American Aerospace Defense Command.  Prior to these last positions he served as the 25th Chief of the National Guard Bureau. He retired from both the Army and National Guard in 2010.

In addition to Gen. Blum, Dr. David S. Ettinger, another member of the Meso Foundation’s Board of Directors, also served in the military as Chief of Medicine at the Munson Army Hospital, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, from July 1971 to June 1973.

Gen. Blum and Dr. Ettinger, on behalf of the entire mesothelioma community, thank all those men and women who have served and will serve in the future.