Written by: Michael McCann

Each year in November we get the chance to pay tribute to the brave men and women who have served in the armed forces. While all veterans should be honored and thanked 365 days a year, Veterans Day provides us with a special opportunity to thank those who have served our country.

Many of our firm’s clients are veterans who are suffering from asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Because of this, I have had the opportunity to work with those who have served in virtually every branch of the military. I always enjoy hearing stories about the things our clients encountered while defending our country, some clients even share old photo albums from their military service. While it is an honor to help these veterans and their families work through the process of litigating asbestos claims, it is also disheartening to know that because of their dedication and service, many veterans will continue to develop asbestos-related diseases every year.

Veteran’s Exposure to Asbestos
Asbestos was commonly used in various roles by the armed forces for many years. Asbestos was found in the equipment in the engine and boiler rooms on Naval vessels, as well as in the brakes and engines of Air Force and Naval aircraft, and in many other products. These products had to be maintained and repaired on a regular basis. That maintenance and repair work released asbestos fibers into the atmosphere, which could have been breathed in by anyone working in the nearby area.

Earlier this year, several attorneys from our firm took a trip to Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA (http://www.battleshipcove.org). We were treated to a tour of the USS Massachusetts and the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. During this remarkable experience we explored every aspect of these vessels, including the engine and boiler rooms – which have remained largely intact from when the ships were operational. It was a particularly poignant experience since many of our clients worked in these engine and boiler rooms as either:

  • Machinist Mates
  • Boiler Technicians
  • Electricians
  • Firemen
  • Engineers

In fact, asbestos was so prevalent among these positions that the military website miltary.com reported that:

‘Virtually every ship commissioned by the United States Navy between 1930 and about 1970 contained several tons of asbestos insulation in the engine room, along the miles of pipe aboard ship and in the walls and doors that required fireproofing.’

Although the engine and boiler rooms we saw were clean of asbestos, this was not the case when these vessels were operational and it was easy enough to image what the working conditions would have actually been like aboard a Naval vessel during the mid-20th century. At that time, those engine and boiler rooms would have been packed with servicemen, whose work on the equipment would have created a dusty and dirty atmosphere. It was that dust, inhaled by unsuspecting men and women which decades later has caused so many veterans to suffer from asbestos-related illnesses.

Protecting Your Legal Rights
Our office has represented hundreds of veterans in asbestos cases over the years so we understand how and where asbestos was used in military applications. Often, our clients were not even aware that they had come into contact with asbestos until they received a diagnosis of mesothelioma. If you or a loved one is a veteran that has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may qualify for additional benefits. Please call us for free, confidential consultation (617) 451-9191.