A recent message from a veteran’s blog written by Morgan Little (Capt., U.S. Navy Reserve, Ret.), Chairman Emeritus, Texas Coalition of Veterans Organizations (TCVO), brought information about veterans and mesothelioma to its recipients:
The very sad aspect of this entire situation is — most of this may have been prevented had applicable sailors worn a simple surgical mask while on watch or while repairing trunk/steam/water lines on a ship?! This to keep from inhaling the tiny asbestos fibers while making repairs.
Mesothelioma is a “rare, asbestos-related cancer that forms on the protective lining of certain parts of the body, most commonly the lungs or abdomen.”
There are a number of mesothelioma symptoms. The most common are dry cough or wheezing, shortness of breath, respiratory complications or difficulty breathing, and pain in the chest or abdomen. Typical symptoms of advanced mesothelioma include fever, pleural effusions (an escape of fluid into a body cavity.), anemia, and muscle weakness.
And there are four types of mesothelioma: Malignant Mesothelioma, Pleural Mesothelioma, Peritoneal Mesothelioma, and Pericardial Mesothelioma.
Asbestos News reported asbestos was used in military facilities, ships, planes, and infantry equipment.
Although mesothelioma is a rare cancer, there an estimated 3,000 cases diagnosed annually in the United States. Other statistics concerning veterans and mesothelioma include:
• Branch of military at highest risk: U.S. Navy
• Asbestos-related deaths: 10,000 veterans annually
• Peak years for military asbestos use: 1935 to 1975
• Asbestos products in Navy ships: More than 300
Today there are approximately 25 million veterans in the United States from allwars and all branches of service, in a nation of over 305 million people. While veterans represent 8% of the nation?s population, they comprise an astonishing 30% of all known mesothelioma deaths that have occurred in this country.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published an article on August 4. 2014 entitled, “Hope for Veterans with asbestos-related cancer.” Its purpose was to let veterans know that, although Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM) is an aggressive incurable cancer, it does not automatically lead to a death sentence.
However, the key longer life was to obtain an early diagnosis.
The VA also reported that Pemetrexed Disodium Solution was “a chemotherapy drug usually used to treat lung cancers like non-small cell lung cancer and mesothelioma.“
From Veterans Enterprise:
For veterans who have mesothelioma, quality treatment is available through VA hospitals. Some – like the Boston VA system – even employ nationally recognized mesothelioma specialists. Because these hospitals are familiar with service-connected conditions, they’re more likely to know how to handle mesothelioma
cases than local hospitals.
Veterans’ benefits and aid programs can help cover the costs of medical care. This financial support can help make potentially curative treatment more accessible to veterans; in the worst-case scenarios, the benefits can also help their families cover end-of-life costs and burial arrangements.
Here are some resources for veterans who want access to other resources on mesothelioma:
• The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com lists “10 Things You Should Know about Mesothelioma”
• The Mesothelioma Center also has a free 200-page mesothelioma guide and provides other assets: information on emerging treatments and clinical trials; resources to help you find a mesothelioma specialist; and provides information on how to obtain financial assistance to help pay medical expenses.
And finally, it may be helpful for veterans to obtain any of their service records while seeking assistance with diagnosis or treatment for mesothelioma. The following documents can be obtained from government archives: Military Personnel Records, including DD 214, Separation Documents, Personnel Records, and/or Medical Records.
Once again, the key to maintaining a longer and healthier life is early diagnosis of mesothelioma. If you have any of the symptoms described herein, then see a doctor immediately.