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Lack of compensation for veterans suffering from asbestos exposure

By Jhonson Peterson, NY Travel Examiner

Around the world, military and navy veterans are dying from mesothelioma (a rare kind of cancer) contracted from exposure to asbestos whilst they were on military service. But rather than aiding war heroes, laws are threatening to prevent veterans from accessing compensation.

In the UK, veterans suffering from asbestos-related illnesses are £150,000 worse off than their civilian counterparts. This is because compensation restrictionsare protecting the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) from being sued for illness and injury incurred by service personnel before 1987. In the US restrictions are being proposed on compensation for victims of asbestos under the FACT bill.

How were veterans at risk?

Asbestos exposure is linked to mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer that manifests most commonly in the lungs. Life expectancy following diagnosis usually ranges from 12 to 24 months.

Naval veterans were often unwillingly (and unknowingly) exposed to asbestos through their work in boiler rooms, where the fibrous material which was regularly used as insulation and fireproofing until the late 1990s. In addition to veterans, those working on naval shipyards, like the Long Beach and Brooklyn Navy Yards, were often also exposed to asbestos. In the US, 30% of mesothelioma cancer cases are among veterans, whilst in the UK, it is estimated 2500 Navy Veterans are likely to die before 2047 from mesothelioma. Read more