Shipbuilding used asbestos-containing products in large amounts as World War II demanded massive production of ships for the Navy. Asbestos was incorporated in the fleet's vessels built before the 1980s due to its resistance to corrosion and intense heat. Considered the "miracle material," the mineral was abundant in the markets at minimal costs - the perfect choice for the Navy to insulate the ships.
With asbestos everywhere, the personnel serving on the ships couldn't avoid being exposed to the microscopic fibers. While essential in keeping the vessels operational, maintenance and repair disturbed the insulation and other asbestos-containing products, releasing the tiny fibers into the air and putting everyone onboard at a high risk of inhaling or ingesting them. Additionally, poor ventilation and long hours in the enclosed spaces increased the chances of asbestos exposure for those who served on the ships built before the 80s. Consequently, many veterans developed asbestos-related cancers years after their service. Navy veterans are entitled to claims and eligible for compensation if diagnosed with:
- pharyngeal cancer
- bronchial cancer
- laryngeal cancer
- lung cancer
- gastrointestinal cancer
- esophageal cancer
- colorectal cancer
- urogenital cancer
Navy chaplains represented a variety of religions on the ships and provided spiritual support for Sailors of all faiths, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist or any other faith. Chaplains were officers stationed wherever the military members were, but didn't have combatant status and didn't participate directly in hostilities. True to their motto, "Called to Serve," chaplains maintained ethos, upheld character, strengthened spiritual fitness, and sustained sailors' commitment to the service. Their responsibilities included:
- performing religious rites
- conducting worship services
- providing confidential counseling
- praying with the living
- assisting the dying
- attending the wounded
Chaplains sometimes even took up additional responsibility by helping identify and bury the dead when insufficient grave registration staffing was available. They were exposed to asbestos while visiting every space on the ship offering the spiritual support the sailors needed.
Add Years to Life With Immediate Action
Health conditions stemming from asbestos exposure can take up to 50 years to develop, and they are often diagnosed only in advanced stages, considerably reducing one's chances of receiving adequate help and timely care. It is why Navy veterans should undergo regular medical examinations and take chest X-rays along with a series of pulmonary function tests when experiencing:
- pain in the chest or shoulder
- loss of appetite
- muscle aches
- unintentional weight loss
- clubbing of the fingers
- persistent dry cough
- shortness of breath
Asbestos-related diseases are complex and, therefore, easily misdiagnosed by most doctors. Visiting a pulmonary specialist qualified to treat lung diseases caused by prolonged asbestos exposure is advisable, as it can ensure the veterans that their condition is accurately evaluated and the diagnosis is correct. Moreover, because illnesses stemming from asbestos exposure often generate symptoms resembling common health conditions, asking for a second or a third doctor's opinion outside the VA is strongly advisable. Another essential step to receiving an exact diagnosis is telling your doctor about the military service. Being vocal about asbestos exposure during service not only helps the diagnostic process but could reveal non-cancerous diseases caused by asbestos exposure:
- rounded atelectasis
- pleural plaques
- pleural effusion
- pleural thickening
- pulmonary fibrosis
- lung nodules and spots
- chronic bronchitis
Even though these illnesses don't qualify a veteran to receive compensation, they should be monitored because non-cancerous conditions related to asbestos exposure tend to develop into cancer. Regular check-ups and thorough evaluations are necessary for revealing and diagnosing cancers that will make a veteran eligible for claims.
Assisting Former Navy Service Members to Receive the Compensation They Deserve
Before the 1980s, due to the Navy mandating the use of asbestos in shipbuilding, the toxic mineral continuously endangered the health of those onboard. If you are a former U.S. Navy member and fulfilled duty between World War II and the late 1970s, you should make an appointment with your doctor when experiencing any of the symptoms described before.
Veterans who served in the Navy, Coast Guard, U.S. Army Transport Service, or Merchant Marine diagnosed with asbestos-related cancers may be eligible for disability compensation. We offer support by connecting you with experienced attorneys ready to assist with your case.