Veterans and Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is rare, and only 3,300 people in the United States receive this diagnosis each year. Military veterans make up 30 percent of those cases. Why? Until 1991, the military used asbestos, a toxic, fibrous mineral, on bases across the U.S. Durable, cheap, and fire-resistant, asbestos was used to insulate military barracks, aircraft, Navy ships, and Army vehicles. If you are a veteran facing a mesothelioma diagnosis, you’re not alone. You could qualify for benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to help cover your medical expenses.
Who Qualifies for Veterans Benefits?
Veterans who have been other-than-dishonorably-discharged can apply for benefits through the VA. While some of these benefits are available to any veteran, there is extra compensation available for service members who were permanently injured during their time of service.
Filing a VA Disability Claim
Veterans who choose to file a claim through the VA will be required to provide proof of their illness and its connection to their military service. For service members who aren’t sure how to access this information, a mesothelioma attorney or patient advocate can help gather the necessary information to prove disability or illness. To receive disability benefits, a veteran must meet these requirements:
- Served as active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty for training
- Have received a disability rating for their service-connected condition.
Veterans who meet both of those requirements must then prove one of the following:
- They were injured or developed their illness while serving in the military
- Had a preexisting condition that was made worse by serving in the military
- Developed a disability that is related to their time in service that didn’t appear until after they were discharged
In order to meet all of the VA requirements, veterans must provide proper documentation. The necessary documents include:
- Time of service
- Where the veteran was stationed
- A doctor’s note confirming a connection between the veteran’s diagnosis and their military service
Veterans who meet the requirements may receive compensation. This money can be applied toward day-to-day necessities or medical bills that have accumulated.
Options for Veterans Who Don’t Qualify for Benefits
While only veterans who were other-than-dishonorably-discharged from the military are eligible to receive benefits through the VA, all veterans may still be eligible for compensation through additional legal action. No matter the status of their discharge, veterans may file a personal injury case against the manufacturers who used asbestos-laden products in military installations. A mesothelioma attorney can help determine if you have a case, and guide you through the process.
Some veterans may also apply for a discharge upgrade through the VA. This applies in situations where the reasons for a specific discharge are tied to another condition or past experience that wasn’t revealed.
After Filing for Benefits
If you or a loved one served in the military and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, take a few minutes to complete our free case evaluation form. Even if you’ve already qualified for VA benefits, you may still have options for legal recourse. There is help out there for everyone who is a victim of asbestos exposure. To learn more about your mesothelioma diagnosis, download a free mesothelioma guide.