Air Force veterans who developed life-threatening mesothelioma after their time in the military have difficulty proving that their illness was caused by asbestos exposure.
A new law passed in 2016 makes it easier for veterans to prove they were exposed and get help with medical bills, lost income, and more.
Did your doctor diagnose you with mesothelioma likely due to exposure to asbestos during your time in the Armed Forces?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our Air Force Veteran mesothelioma attorneys are legal advocates for members of all military branches, including the United States Air Force.
Call our asbestos injury attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Air Force Veterans & Disability Compensation
Mesothelioma is devastating cancer that can take decades to develop, but veterans exposed to asbestos during their time in the Air Force may be eligible for VA benefits.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to prove that your mesothelioma was caused by exposure while serving in the military. The VA will require proof of asbestos exposure and evidence showing that you developed symptoms within certain time frames after leaving service.
We’re an experienced law firm with extensive experience helping active-duty Air Force members and veterans get compensation through the VA claims process. Our dedicated team of attorneys has helped many veterans receive the financial support they need and deserve.
For a free consultation about your claim, or if you have any questions regarding your disability claim, contact us today at (888) 424-5757 for more information on how we can help you file a claim today!
Mesothelioma and Asbestos Fibers and Dust
For decades, medical researchers have known the correlation between asbestos fibers/dust exposure and developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. In addition, asbestos was used in hundreds of applications for its ability to strengthen, fire-proof, and insulate materials.
Therefore, those exposed to asbestos during their work as part of the larger community have an increased risk of harm.
Approximately 30 million Americans have been exposed to asbestos throughout their lifetime, according to the United States Department of Labor. While many of these individuals have not developed such illnesses, those exposed to high levels of asbestos may be more likely to do so, particularly if they develop lung cancer or mesothelioma.
The Veterans Administration has recognized this risk and now provides disability benefits for veterans who have been diagnosed with certain forms of cancer as a direct result of asbestos exposure.
Air Force Veterans and Mesothelioma
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to determine the source of a disease or what caused a particular illness.
For example, while there is strong evidence linking asbestos exposure to mesothelioma, the Department of Veteran Affairs requires veterans to prove that they were exposed to asbestos during their time in the military before providing disability benefits.
In addition, Air Force veterans must prove that they were exposed to a high enough concentration of asbestos fibers/dust and that they developed life-threatening mesothelioma within a certain time frame after exposure.
These requirements help ensure that only those who had significant exposure receive benefits and that those who were not exposed receive no benefits.
Air Force Service Members and Veterans & Asbestos Exposure
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), asbestos was used heavily in construction from the 1940s through the 1970s. As a result, many Air Force veterans who served during that time were exposed to asbestos.
According to some estimates, 75% of commercial buildings contain at least one type of asbestos material. Moreover, by the mid-1970s, many types of military equipment also contained large amounts of asbestos.
Asbestos has been linked to many lung diseases, including asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos illnesses or cancers. Exposure occurs when microscopic asbestos fibers are inhaled or swallowed. They can cause serious health problems 20-50 years after being exposed.
If you have developed mesothelioma after serving with the Air Force, there’s a good chance that your illness was caused by asbestos exposure while in the military.
The Department of Veterans Affairs health care system’s mesothelioma doctors have access to the best data on mesothelioma treatments. In addition, veterans with mesothelioma who have been exposed to asbestos while serving in the Air Force can get a free consultation with one of these doctors if they qualify for programs.
These programs and services offer Air Force veterans comprehensive treatment options, including surgery and drug therapies. They also provide financial assistance and other benefits.
If you have mesothelioma and meet the criteria above, don’t wait to get help.
These programs are designed to support veterans with mesothelioma exposed to asbestos while serving in the United States military. For example, veterans who served in the Air Force between January 21, 1969, and December 31, 1978, might be eligible for special benefits under this law.
Various Forms of Mesothelioma
Only a competent doctor with the best diagnostic tools can accurately identify a service member or veteran’s asbestos disease, like mesothelioma or asbestosis.
For example, the patient may have entered the service in the 1960s or 1970s, but the asbestos exposure could have occurred in basic training when they slept in Air Force barracks that contained insulation made with asbestos.
For decades, the military used asbestos as a fire retardant or insulator due to its heat resistance properties. As a result, service members were subjected to asbestos-containing products that many Air Force bases worldwide.
The best way to be diagnosed is by participating in a clinical trial at one of the leading mesothelioma research centers like Harvard University. While the cause is almost always exposed to asbestos products, the patient’s medical records and case history must be studied before a formal diagnosis can be made.
Veterans should not assume that they automatically have an asbestos-associated illness because they were in the military. Instead, it is best to seek a specialist with experience dealing with mesothelioma veterans’ disability claims.
The three forms of mesothelioma include:
- Pleural mesothelioma: The form of the disease affects the lining of the lung known as the pleura. The pleura surrounds the lungs and lines the outside of the chest cavity.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma: Affects not only the abdominal area but also spreads to other organs within that region, including the intestines, pancreas, kidneys, liver, and spleen.
- Pericardial mesothelioma: Mesothelioma can also affect the sac around the heart, including the pericardium.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer affecting about 3,000 people each year in the U.S. alone. Asbestos exposure or being exposed to carcinogenic chemicals are the only known causes of the disease.
After a comprehensive diagnosis, the mesothelioma patients’ doctors will offer professional medical advice on treating the condition to improve the veteran’s prognosis. Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.
Other forms of mesothelioma treatments that may be helpful are:
- Surgical intervention: If the patient has developed asbestosis, the doctor may recommend surgery to remove the lining of the lungs. This procedure is called pleurodesis and can be performed by a thoracic surgeon.
- Radiation treatment: A combination of chemotherapy drugs is surgically implanted into the body cavity where mesothelioma has developed or into spaces around affected organs near the abdomen.
- Chemotherapy: The doctor may recommend a combination of chemotherapy treatments injected into the body or taken orally. These drugs help shrink tumors and block the growth of cancer cells causing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses.
- Bone-directed therapy: If localized in one area, such as the back or pelvis, radiation treatment can focus on these areas to avoid harming surrounding tissue.
- Medications: Mesothelioma specialists may prescribe drugs to treat specific symptoms of the patient’s asbestos-related illnesses, including painkillers and steroids to manage inflammation.
What If I’m Not a Veteran?
If you believe that you were exposed to hazardous asbestos while employed or working for the military during this time but never served in the Air Force, don’t worry. Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure, linked to developing cancer regardless of whether you served in the military or on an Air Force Base.
Many other occupations have similar health risks associated with exposure to asbestos materials because of the nature of their job. For example, workers in factories, power plants, shipyards, mills, chemical plants, oil refineries, railroads, or other sites that mined asbestos or used asbestos-containing materials are at risk of developing mesothelioma.
Therefore, if you think you may have been exposed to products and materials containing asbestos during your time in the service, seek medical attention immediately.
Are a veteran diagnosed with mesothelioma or another form of asbestos-related illness? In that case, you may qualify for benefits under the Department of Veteran Affairs disability program.
Asbestos litigation has been ongoing in the U.S. since the 1970s when it became clear that many employees had become severely ill due to their prolonged exposure to asbestos-containing materials while on the job.
Several companies that manufactured asbestos-containing products paid millions of dollars in damages to mesothelioma victims and their families. The compensation helped many people meet the costs of their medical care, which were often quite expensive due to the complex nature of this rare form of cancer treatment.
Unfortunately, many companies filed for bankruptcy to avoid paying large sums of money due to the legal proceedings, leaving thousands of people who continued to suffer from mesothelioma without financial relief.
In 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law giving those diagnosed with asbestosis or mesothelioma $250,000 compensation for their health problems.
In addition to these funds, many states passed laws to provide additional compensation for workers who suffered from exposure-related illnesses. Over the years, several state legislatures have updated their insurance policies and now offer benefits for asbestos-exposure victims in certain circumstances.
How Asbestos Exposure Occurs
Air Force asbestos exposure is often work-related, but it can also occur during leisure, such as doing certain hobbies like woodworking or automotive repair. Even if the service member never worked with asbestos, they may have lived near a plant or Air Force bases using the mineral or the facility disposed of asbestos within its perimeter.
As far back as World War II, military veterans are not the only ones at risk for exposure to asbestos while in service. In addition to mesothelioma Air Force veterans, many civilians are also susceptible, especially if they worked as a tradesman or somehow came into contact with those who work with the toxic mineral daily.
Case law proves that those who served as firefighters or police officers are also at risk, sometimes to a greater degree than those in the military.
How Asbestos Causes Mesothelioma and Asbestosis
Asbestos dust and fibers can remain airborne for a very long time. Once individual fibers are inhaled into the lungs, they will remain there until the body’s immune system removes them or eventually becomes a tumor.
Asbestos enters the respiratory tract lining and then migrates to other body parts, including the bloodstream, lymphatic system, and gastrointestinal tract.
This process can take 10 to 50 years before symptoms develop involving veterans exposed to asbestos products. In the advanced stages of mesothelioma, patients will experience coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pains. Unfortunately, these symptoms may be wrongly diagnosed as a respiratory infection or pneumonia.
Due to the lengthy latency period between asbestos exposure and the onset of illness, many veterans have waited long before filing a VA claim for disability.
After a diagnosis is made, it is very difficult for Air Force veterans with mesothelioma to win a disability claim without exposure through service records and medical reports.
Filing a VA Claim for Mesothelioma
In addition to demonstrating that you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma and have at least one year of service in the Air Force, a successful disability claim for this condition requires proving:
- You were exposed to products that contained asbestos while serving at an Air Force Base
- You developed mesothelioma within a specific time frame after being exposed to dangerous asbestos
- You are filing your claim within a specific time frame after revealing your diagnosis.
If you were exposed to products that contained asbestos, the most important thing is that you file your claim as soon as possible.
The Department of Veterans Affairs will want documentation of any exposure, including where it happened and when along with enough detail about the circumstances surrounding the incident to prove that your illness was caused by asbestos exposure during active military duty.
Did you develop mesothelioma while in the military serving at Air Force bases? The Veterans Affairs has various resources for veterans filing claims for respiratory illnesses like mesothelioma handled by a VA-accredited claims agent.
The Department of Defense has also put together a helpful guide to assist Air Force veterans in filing a VA disability claim. The guide includes information about what documentation you should have ready and expect when filing your claim.
Resources for Air Force Veterans: Trusts Funds for Asbestos Victims
The Department of Veterans Affairs and others offer legal and financial remedies for mesothelioma veterans harmed by exposure to asbestos particles, dust, and fibers during their time in military service.
You may be eligible for a $100,000 tax-free monetary award from the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.
According to the VA:
“Certain service members who worked around aircraft may have been exposed to hazardous asbestos from brake pads, clutches, and gaskets. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease from this exposure, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs for more information about benefits available to you.”
The Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry is a resource that allows Air Force veterans to report exposures during their time surveying at Air Force bases.
Additionally, eligible Air Force veterans who file a claim with the VA may receive compensation for related medical costs, disability payments, and survivor benefits.
An application fee of $210 is necessary when applying for this award. However, applicants who are 100 percent disabled or have already died due to exposure-related causes are exempt from this fee.
Asbestos Trust Funds for Veterans and Surviving Family Members
Many veterans diagnosed with a service-related injury have turned to special asbestos trusts as a source of financial support.
These may be set up by companies that used or manufactured asbestos products when the veteran was in military service. They may be established independently of specific organizations separate from any Air Force Base.
The VA does not provide financial assistance based on exposure to asbestos. However, suppose you believe that your cancer results from exposure to hazardous materials during military service. In that case, you could file a claim with one or more of these companies or organizations.
The Mesothelioma Veterans Resource Center also provides an extensive listing of veterans’ asbestos trusts that includes contact information, the amounts of awards, and a description of each.
For Air Force veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma, these funds can provide VA benefits and can be a useful resource as you attempt to cover costs related to your medical care and end-of-life needs. In addition, veterans who served in any military branch may be eligible for benefits from these trusts.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for Family Members of Veterans
Any veteran 100 percent disabled or dead due to exposure to asbestos dust and fibers during military service could provide for their family through benefits. In addition, their family members may be able to receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation from the VA.
To qualify for this benefit, Air Force veterans with mesothelioma must meet all qualifications for VA benefits related to the disability or death of the active or retired service member. In most cases, this includes a showing of financial need as well as proof of dependency.
Air Force veterans with mesothelioma eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation from the Veterans Affairs may also file a claim for VA benefits with asbestos trusts to receive funds for certain related expenses.
In addition to medical care costs and loss of income, this award may also be granted to cover burial and memorialization expenses. All claims are subject to a means test; if the combined income of any other member of your household is higher than $26,667 per year, you may not be able to receive benefits.
VA Disability Claims for Mesothelioma Sufferers
Veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and who meet the eligibility requirements for VA benefits may be able to file a claim.
If you served on active duty between October 7, 1980, and May 9, 1986, or worked as a civilian on Kaho’olawe Island during this period, you may qualify for assistance related to mesothelioma paid by the federal government and asbestos companies.
VA Disability Benefits are based on the severity of your asbestos contamination-related illness. Because this is a fatal disease, VA benefits can include increasing compensation for disabled or deceased veterans’ dependents.
If you are still serving in the military and are diagnosed with mesothelioma, you are eligible for continued pay while you receive treatment. VA healthcare providers will work with you and your commanding officers to develop a treatment plan and determine how long you can continue to serve before completing this plan.
If you are already retired from the military, you may be able to file for disability compensation if your illness interferes with your ability to remain employed. For most veterans, it’s necessary to show that your mesothelioma limits your ability to work at a sedentary job.
However, suppose you served in a combat or high-risk environment on and off an Air Force Base. In that case, you can also qualify for disability compensation if your cancer severely limits your physical mobility.
In some cases, the VA will provide benefits without requiring that you prove any negative impact on employment. For example, veterans with a service-related disability rated as “total” by the VA may be eligible for compensation without demonstrating any substantial limitation in employment.
Air Force Veterans With Mesothelioma & Asbestos Exposure Can Get Help
Are you an Air Force veteran diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness? If so, a mesothelioma lawyer can help connect you with the benefits and VA compensation you deserve.
Our nationwide team of attorneys has extensive experience helping veterans and their families obtain the benefits they need to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.
We’ll help you determine if you qualify for compensation through one of these programs or others like it. We work on a contingency fee basis – we don’t get paid until you do – which means no upfront costs and no risk to hiring our team of experts.
Hire a Mesothelioma Disability Attorney to Resolve a Veteran Claim
Did you serve in any of the military branches of the Armed Forces, including the United States Air Force? Were you diagnosed with mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos materials?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our disability claim attorneys have helped many veterans with mesothelioma resolve their disability claims with the VA and other Federal agencies.
Call our mesothelioma lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. Let us ensure you receive maximum financial compensation for your damages.
We accept all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. This promise ensures you pay nothing until we resolve your case through a negotiated settlement or jury trial award.