I Am a Veteran Who Was Exposed to Asbestos in the Military, but I Have No Symptoms. Can I Still File a VA Claim?

by Channika DeSilva Gonzalez on January 16, 2019

Disability compensation is a financial benefit the VA pays out only to veterans with diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis, lung cancer, or asbestosis. Therefore, a veteran is not eligible for it in the absence of a proper asbestos-related diagnosis.

Veterans with a history of military asbestos exposure should permanently monitor their health, as the risk of developing a serious disease remains high throughout their entire life

As the VA deems only diseases which occur as a consequence of military asbestos exposure disabilities, veterans without a proper diagnosis are not eligible for financial compensation and thereby cannot file a claim in this regard. Nevertheless, if you know for a fact that you were subjected to asbestos exposure while serving, you should closely monitor your health, as you are at high risk of developing a related illness anytime in the future. After inhalation or ingestion, asbestos fibers cause inflammation and tissue scarring gradually, hence the long latency period diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer have. It usually takes between 10 and 50 years for the damage asbestos produces to internal organs to turn into a disease per se. Therefore, if you have a history of asbestos exposure, you are unfortunately susceptible to becoming ill for the rest of your life.

It is also important to know that symptoms rarely show up in the early phase. When veterans begin experiencing physical distress, it typically means that their disease has become quite severe. For this reason, timely detection is crucial. Veterans who know they were exposed to asbestos in the military are strongly advised to undergo a thorough medical examination every year, regardless of whether they currently have symptoms. Keeping a close eye on your health will help you avoid being diagnosed with a serious disease when it is too advanced to respond to treatment.

Finally, since the rate of misdiagnosis is alarmingly high among victims of asbestos exposure, we wholeheartedly encourage you to seek a second opinion from a specialist if you already have a diagnosis. Because the symptoms of lung disease caused by asbestos exposure often overlap those of more common respiratory conditions such as asthma or pneumonia, even medical experts are prone to assigning the wrong diagnosis. Thus, being evaluated by multiple specialists is necessary when asbestos is responsible for your illness. A false diagnosis can affect your prognosis dramatically, as you will not benefit from effective treatment, which will inevitably lead to the aggravation of your condition.

Were you exposed to asbestos while serving in the U.S. military? If so, our medical experts are willing to provide you with a free asbestos screening. As a result of the staggering presence of asbestos in military vehicles, as well as on military bases, between 1935 and 1975, veterans are now one of the demographics at highest risk for diseases like asbestosis and lung cancer. Please feel free to contact us at 205.328.9200 and, after carefully examining the results of your chest X-ray, our specialists will let you know whether there is a cause for concern in your case.