We Stand Together: Veterans and Asbestos


The ACVRC Supports and Protects the Rights of Our Military Veterans

There is a strong sentiment throughout the cancer community of standing together and watching each other’s back. With asbestos cancer being one that takes shelter inside bodies and rears its ugly head years after initial exposure, it’s especially important to be aware of the risks. While workers in various industries are the most typical candidates for developing asbestos cancer, veterans are also a major community in danger. According to the statistics of all malignant mesothelioma cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year, veterans account for nearly one-third.
Asbestos was used quite regularly in the military due to its heat and fire resistant properties as well as its durability. It was an inexpensive material that every branch of the military utilized. For those veterans who served in the Armed Forces prior to 1980, most, if not all, could have potentially been exposed to the material, unaware of its dangers.
Of all the service members, veterans of the Navy tend to be most affected due to the high amounts of asbestos in ships and shipyards. Shipyard workers ––those enlisted or civilian­­––have one of the highest rates of exposure in the United States. Materials included, but not limited to, pipe and boiler insulation, pipefittings, cement, tiles, and cables all contained asbestos, causing many workers to inhale these fibers. Similarly, sailors working in the engine and boiler rooms were also at risk. Damaged areas of the ship would release fibers into the air and the tight living quarters made it difficult to avoid subsequent exposure.
Members who served in the U.S. Army, Marines, and Air Force also faced asbestos exposure risks. Up until the early 1980s, military bases were all built with this inexpensive fiber. It was used to insulate walls and mechanical equipment, the same kind of materials found inside military housing units, potentially exposing a soldier’s entire family. Airplane manufacturers believed that asbestos was the best material to insulate engines and protect planes from fires. As a result, Air Force veterans are some of the more likely candidates for mesothelioma.
Today, the Veterans Administration oversees several hundred cases of asbestos cancer each year among its members. Additionally, recent legislation has come into play that seeks to threaten the rights of veterans and cancer victims. The “Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act”, or FACT Act, if passed, will delay, and in some cases, deny justice and badly needed compensation to people suffering from asbestos-related diseases. These companies who were aware of the risks of asbestos and continued to use it anyway are proposing this bill, which will place burdensome reporting requirements on the victims. Plain and simple, the FACT Act is NOT what it pretends to be.  Instead, it is designed to harm those that have already been injured and is a cowardly attempt by these companies to avoid responsibility for their own wrongdoings.
As a result of this injustice, The Asbestos Cancer Victims’ Rights Campaign (ACVRC) was created. The ACVRC is a national campaign dedicated to defeating the FACT Act and future legislation that threatens the rights of cancer victims. Let’s take a stand for veterans and all others affected. Lets come together and make our voices heard. Our veterans, those that served the very country that may stand in its way, need our help. Please visit the site and sign the petition to stop this bill and ensure that these victims have the right to fight.


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