Being diagnosed with cancer is a life-changing event. Your future is uncertain, you’re fighting for life, scared about the possibility of surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. But there are many people who know what you’re going through, and they want to help.
Having a solid support system is paramount when fighting cancer. It’s no different for U.S. armed forces veterans, especially for those who develop serious asbestos cancer caused by extensive asbestos exposure while they were in the military. Navy veterans and workers employed by U.S. shipyards are very susceptible to developing mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer because asbestos was heavily used in the construction of naval ships.
Unfortunately, not many veterans’ organizations offer specific benefits for mesothelioma or other types of cancer, such as lung cancer and veterans may discover that obtaining those benefits can be difficult.
The first place most veterans with these illnesses will turn to is the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). While veterans have rights to VA federal health and disability benefits, there is no guarantee that they’ll be approved for those benefits. The VA does not currently recognize malignant mesothelioma or other asbestos cancers as a “service-related” disorder, a disease or illness that is linked to one’s military service.
Unfortunately, the same problem exists for organizations like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War, both of which provide federal benefits to their members. (Both groups do support the creation of a trust fund to compensate veterans and/or their dependents who are suffering from asbestos-related ailments. However, they want to do so without altering the current VA benefits program.)
That discovery can be surprising and discouraging.
There is hope, however, as there are a number of advocacy organizations that specialize in facilitating VA and social security benefits approval and proper treatment for veterans with mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer. While it’s not 100 percent certain that an individual will be approved for VA benefits, these types of organizations can assist.
Many groups are free, one-source outlets that are catered to veterans and their loved ones afflicted with asbestos related ailments, and are generally made up of groups of veterans who wanted to help their fellow servicemen.
Since they specializes in service-connected cancer claims, these groups are often successful in gaining VA benefits for veterans with asbestos cancers, in some instances in as short of a time-frame as a little over three months. Often, counselors also assist with a variety of issues, including helping patients appeal rejected VA benefits, securing social security benefits, finding proper legal representation (As an aside, it’s important to note that mesothelioma lawyers working for veterans almost NEVER sue a branch of the military – instead they generally go after those that produced the products that caused harm in order to obtain compensation for you and your loved ones), providing them with information about asbestos cancer or mesothelioma and possible medical treatments for both diseases, as well as answering any other questions that may arise along the way.
Veteran Service Organizations & Mesothelioma / Lung Cancer’ Resources:
1. Veterans Helping Veterans, VAclaim.org
2. American Watchdog, CancerWatchDog.com
3. Veterans Resources, VeteransResources.org, “Mesothelioma and Veterans”, http://www.veteransresources.org/news-articles/mesothelioma-and-veterans-070717.html
4. American Cancer Society, Inc., Cancer.org, “Asbestos”
5. Department of Veterans of Foreign Wars, VFW Membership Forum (Part of the VFW WebCOM Network), “VFW National Resolutions No. 636 thru 644 — Veterans Service”, http://vfwwebcom.org/forum/index.php?topic=681.msg1647