During the last century, asbestos was present on virtually all Navy ships and submarines, mostly in wall insulation. However, there were other machinery and equipment which contained the toxic mineral, such as floor tiles, piping, gaskets, valves, tubing, grinders, as well as adhesives. Once asbestos fibers enter the body via the nose or the mouth, they will never leave your organism, being able to cause awful diseases like mesothelioma or asbestosis over the course of 20 to 50 years, as these illnesses have a long latency period. Therefore, veterans who served in the U.S. Navy are at high risk of developing a debilitating disease nowadays. In fact, over 20 million veterans were exposed to asbestos between 1920 and 1980, numerous of which have later come to suffer from a form of lung disease.
The occupations which were at the highest risk of asbestos exposure in the Navy were the following:
- machinist mate
- hull technician
- crane operator
- disbursing officer
- fire watcher
- gunner's mate
- electrician's mate
- boatswain's mate
If you know a veteran who experiences the following symptoms, please urge them to seek medical assistance as soon as possible, as these are the most common signs of asbestos-related diseases:
- difficulty breathing
- chest pain
- a lingering cough
- trouble swallowing
- muscle weakness
- abdominal pain
- night sweats
The medical examination they need to undergo includes a chest X-ray and, possibly, a CT scan. Since asbestos-related diseases are considered occupational illnesses, a B-reader is the most qualified medical professional to evaluate their X-rays. By having a CT scan, the veteran's physician will be able to see in great detail how severe their disease is and which treatment it requires. Depending on the nature of the disease, treatment may consist of medication, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or even surgery.
In the unfortunate case you know a veteran who has already developed a disease as a consequence of Navy asbestos exposure, we strongly advise you to inform them regarding how they can apply for VA compensation and benefits. There are multiple types of compensation the VA awards to veterans injured by asbestos exposure, such as:
- Disability Compensation: As a monthly benefit, Disability Compensation starts at approximately $3,000, depending on the severity of the veteran's disease, as well as on their number of dependants.
- Special Monthly Compensation: This type of benefit is available to veterans who cannot take care of themselves and need the help of another person to perform daily tasks. It varies between $250 and $650 per month.
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: Available to the survivors of a veteran who passed away due to a disease which had occurred as a result of Navy asbestos exposure, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation may reach $1,000, depending on how serious the veteran's diagnosis was.
- VA Healthcare: Veterans injured by asbestos exposure can also benefit from free healthcare from the VA.