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Coronavirus faqs: what veterans need to know about the COVID-19?

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on April 21st, 2020

At Environmental Litigation Group, we understand that, as a veteran diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease that occurred as a result of military asbestos exposure, you may have further concerns about how coronavirus can impact you. Here you'll find the answers you need.

As the United States comes to grips with the challenges brought by the pandemic, veterans and their families face difficult financial challenges as they try to make ends meet. At Environmental Litigation Group, our lawyers are committed to ensuring veterans and their families have the information they need about accessing benefits and other forms of compensation to help pay for medical expenses incurred during asbestos-related diagnosis and treatment.

Illnesses caused by asbestos range from minor respiratory problems such as chronic bronchitis, and asthma, to deadly cancers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, certain preexisting conditions may lead to more severe forms of COVID-19 infections, therefore, veterans with illnesses related to asbestos exposure are of specific concern to health-care professionals. Even patients in remission may be at higher risk of serious coronavirus complications. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can depress the immune system and a weak immune system have a difficult time fighting off any infection, including COVID-19.

Veterans who have developed illnesses due to exposure to asbestos during their military service deserve compensation. Compensation can be recovered in a variety of ways; commonly, money is recovered from asbestos trust funds and VA claims.

Asbestos exposure and the resulting cancer diagnosis is an epidemic among veterans, making up around 30 percent of all diagnosed mesothelioma cases in the U.S. If you are living with an asbestos-related illness, you could be able to claim financial compensation, as well as a wide range of state benefits, which can help you and your family following a diagnosis when you are already dealing with the physical and emotional impact of your condition.

More than half of veterans nationwide are aged 65 or older, and a significant percentage of all veterans suffer from underlying health conditions because many of their military occupations exposed them to harmful levels of asbestos during the era of rampant "miraculous mineral" use. The Department of Veterans Affairs administers benefits for all U.S. military branches to help cover the medical expenses of veterans who have suffered delayed health consequences after being exposed to asbestos.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit veterans and their families especially hard. At Environmental Litigation Group, our team has taken a proactive approach to provide continued legal services to our veterans and their families.

Our attorneys and staff are functioning at full capacity, and remain available 24/7 via telephone, text message, email, and video conference, so your claims can be addressed immediately. We also know how stressful this unprecedented pandemic situation can be for you and your family, especially if you have an active asbestos claim in progress, so we are looking for new ways to support our military families through these uncertain times.

If you have been a victim of asbestos exposure, it's important to understand that time is the essence if you plan to file a claim. The deadlines for filing a claim can vary by state and are usually between two and four years from diagnosis or the death of the patient. If the time specified in a statute of limitations passes, you may lose your rights for compensation.

Although the VA's Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) temporarily closed its 56 regional offices to the public on March 19 in response to COVID-19, veterans can continue to get information about benefits, file a claim online, and receive benefits and services.

Additionally, the agency of the federal government activated the VA's emergency management coordination cell (EMCC) and have started clinical screenings at all VA facilities.

Veterans experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, are advised to call the local VA medical center before visiting.

If a veteran has a cough, fever, and shortness of breath, he/she is advised to consider using the VA's telehealth and virtual care options so that he/she can be evaluated without leaving home.

As the number of veteran cases has risen steadily over the last month, the Department of Veterans Affairs is struggling to provide the necessary staffing and equipment for former veterans hospitalized with COVID-19 at the VA Medical Centers. At the start of March, only 30 cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed at a handful of VA medical centers. By April 1 that figure had grown to about 1,600. A few days ago, the VA reported over 4,400 cases at 119 department sites.

A common question of veterans is what the rights of their family members are if they pass away. If a veteran dies of a service-related illness, surviving family members can qualify for a monthly payment known as dependency and indemnity compensation.

Veterans with a history of military asbestos exposure would likely have a worse outcome from a coronavirus infection. They are more prone to having worsening shortness of breath, swelling in and around their lungs which increases the chances of severe illness or death.

Prevailing upon a VA claim may become more difficult after the veteran dies, for this reason, veterans should start the VA claim process as soon as possible after the diagnosis of a service-related illness.

If the veteran's service-connected condition was a contributory cause of death, the VA should presume that it contributed substantially to the veteran's death, and so grant service connection without further investigation.

Since you are at a higher risk of serious health problems, it's important for you to get new information about the virus from trustworthy sources. There are several veteran-focused outlets that are providing regular updates with new information about the virus.

Trusted sources that are publishing new information about the virus include:

As the coronavirus continues to spread, we are looking for new ways to support our military families through these difficult times

We all have a part to play in slowing the spread of the new coronavirus, which is why we invite everyone that makes homemade facial masks to join our campaign. Please send with delivery or bring your homemade face masks and coverings to our law firm at 2160 Highland Ave, Birmingham, AL 35205 and we will deliver these to our clients diagnosed with cancer and their families.

The coronavirus outbreak has had a massive ripple effect throughout the U.S., and our veterans are caught in it. Our skilled, caring team of professionals will continue to track developments in order to best advise and support veterans and their families.

Quality legal assistance for veterans affected by military asbestos exposure

If you are a veteran who struggles with a disease as a consequence of military asbestos exposure, you may be eligible for compensation from asbestos trust funds and from the VA. To initiate the legal process of filing a claim, please contact our attorneys as soon as possible, as asbestos exposure cases have a statute of limitations of 3 years in the majority of states which, if it expires, you will no longer qualify for compensation. With over 25 years of professional experience, our lawyers will help you recover the maximum compensation you are entitled to, which will also help you afford superior healthcare and treatment.