Pools open across the U.S., families flock to the beach, and school-aged kids look forward to summer vacation on Memorial Day. Although the day is seen as the unofficial start of summer, it is meant to honor all those who died while serving in the U.S. military.
According to USMemorialDay.org, over 1.8 million soldiers have given their lives for America since 1775. Among foreign wars, World War II was the deadliest for the U.S. with 405,399 lives lost. The number of U.S. military personnel killed in the Korean War was 33,686, and in the Vietnam War 58,209. Current U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have claimed over 7,000 American lives.
Still more lost their lives long after the battlefield or service from injuries or illnesses, such as mesothelioma, suffered from their service. Some U.S. soldiers have successfully ended their military career only to be stricken with health issues later due to exposure to toxic materials, including asbestos.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans who served in any of the following occupations may have been exposed to asbestos: mining, milling, shipyard work, insulation work, demolition of old buildings, carpentry and construction, manufacturing and installation of products such as flooring and roofing. In addition, the VA reports that the latest generation of war veterans, those who served in Iraq and other countries in that region, could have been exposed to asbestos when older buildings were damaged and the contaminants were released into the air.
The inhalation of asbestos fibers has been associated with lung cancer and mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is a rare cancer affecting the lining of the lungs that is extremely difficult to treat and is virtually impossible to cure. Although nearly 3,000 new cases are reported annually in the U.S., statistics show that military veterans account for over one-third of those cases.
All of us at MesotheliomaHelp encourage all Americans to take a moment out of your busy Memorial Day to honor those who have served our country. In coordination with the National Moment of Remembrance, observed at 3:00pm local time, “pause for one minute … to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all.”
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- National Moment of Remembrance