The Coast Guard and Mesothelioma
While most military branches and manufacturers quit using asbestos in the 1980s, the Coast Guard’s largest ships, known as “cutters,” still relied on the mineral for its, durability and heat resistance, as recently as 1991. The mineral could have been used in any part of the ship, including boilers, steel, and flooring.
U.S.C.G. cutters are the largest ships within this military branch, and Coast Guardsmen are often stationed here for long periods of time. The more time service members spend on the ships, and anywhere with high concentrations of asbestos for that matter, the more at risk they are to develop mesothelioma.
Where Would Veterans Have Been Exposed to Asbestos
Veterans of the United States Coast Guard that were stationed on any ship built before 1991 is at risk of regular asbestos exposure. This risk is increased when ships are undergoing repairs or renovations. This allows asbestos fibers that has been trapped in walls, flooring, and insulation to become airborne and more easily inhaled.
Coast Guard and Asbestos Use
From the beginning of the 20th century, through World War I and World War II, asbestos was used as a crucial mineral to insulate thousands of products and buildings for both military and civilians alike. For the Coast Guard, asbestos and asbestos-containing products were a necessity in the construction of their ships. Boilers, insulation, and even steel beams needed to be strong and resistant to fire. However, this left many Coast Guardsmen serving on these ships at risk for concentrated asbestos exposure.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
The difficulty in diagnosing mesothelioma lies in its symptoms. Mesothelioma shares many symptoms with more benign diseases, like the flu, Any person diagnosing themselves through symptoms alone could come to the conclusion that they have a different disease. These symptoms can include:
- Abdominal pain
- Bloating or swelling
- Body aches and pain
- Bowel obstruction
- Blood clots
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Fever/night sweats
- Fluid buildup around the lungs
- Loss of appetite
- Persistent dry cough
- Wheezing and shortness of breath
- Weight loss
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, and have served in the military, do not self-diagnose. Reach out to a physician or oncologist who specializes in treating mesothelioma.
Next Steps for Coast Guard Veterans
Coast Guard veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma are eligible for benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. These benefits can help cover the costs of medical bills or loss of income. However, a veteran must be able to prove that their mesothelioma developed as a result of their service. This can be done through documentation and a doctor’s consultation.
Filing for Veterans’ Benefits
Veterans who believe that their mesothelioma was caused during their time of service may be eligible for benefits through the VA. However, any veteran hoping to claim this compensation, be it for hospital bills or loss of income, will have to prove their eligibility through documentation of their service and diagnosis. Before going to the VA, collect these records:
- Time and location of service
- Job or occupation in the military
- A medical note confirming your service to your diagnosis
With these records and documents of your service, you can file a claim for VA benefits, which cover everything from medical bills to lost wages for veterans and their families. Mesothelioma is a dangerous illness and requires extensive treatment. Don’t let your monetary situation get in the way of your health.
Taking Legal Action
There are cases where VA benefits are denied or don’t cover all of the patient’s expenses. It this happens, you may be eligible for legal action against the companies that used asbestos.
Veterans who have been denied benefits can still seek legal compensation. This could take the form asbestos trust funds, or a claim against the manufacturers that produced products with asbestos. Know that these legal actions, however, are not against the U.S. military or government and will not affect benefits that are being provided through the VA. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, fill out our free case evaluation form to connect with a legal specialist.