Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has previously been used primarily for commercial purposes. This material was commonly used in all military branches because it was cheap, readily available and fire-resistant. It is estimated that more than 300 asbestos-containing products were used throughout the military. In fact, asbestos was so valued that the military mandated widespread usage before eventually phasing out the material in the 1970s. As a result, veterans who served between 1940 and 1970 have a risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses.
Air Force and asbestos
Although the majority of asbestos exposure to veterans is found on ships, asbestos still has been found in many USAF installations around the country as well as planes. Installations with old on-base housing or administrative buildings were common locations of asbestos. Asbestos has been found on planes, and many AF veterans who served as crewmen or mechanics were unaware of their exposure. Because of its high resistance to heat asbestos was used in various parts of airplanes, including;
- Cockpit heater system
- Heat shields for engines
- Torque valves
- Electrical wires insulation
- Insulation in the cargo bays of cargo planes
Asbestos related Diseases
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that primarily affects the lungs, heart, and or abdomen. This disease occurs four times more frequently in men than women, and is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. Receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis can be difficult given the symptoms are similar to a common cold,
- Chest pains
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breathe
- Weight loss
Although you may see symptoms early on, the disease may have been present in your body for many years. It takes approximately 30-50 years for mesothelioma symptoms to begin showing, which is the leading cause of a possibly poor prognosis.
Veterans Seeking Assistance
Veterans are allowed to apply for VA benefits for asbestos-related diseases, and the resources at Asbestos.com can assist veterans in applying for benefits. Currently, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs recognizes mesothelioma as a service-connected medical condition. However, even if a veteran has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the VA may not approve their claim for disability compensation for various reasons. The Mesothelioma Center offers help to veterans through its Veterans Assistance Department. The Department of Veterans Affairs covers conditions related to asbestos and mesothelioma, but will only provide benefits when proper proof of exposure during service is provided. A Veterans Benefit Counselor will be able to assist you in fulfilling the necessary documentation to obtain maximum benefits.