Today is November 11, Veterans Day, a day to honor all United States military veterans. Initially established in 1919 to celebrate the end of World War I, the day is now a federal holiday honoring veterans of all wars with ceremonies and parades.
This year November 11 is once again declared the Veterans Day holiday through a proclamation by the President of the United States. Following is an excerpt from the proclamation:
“On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to our veterans, to the fallen, and to their families. To honor their contributions to our Nation, let us strive with renewed determination to keep the promises we have made to all who have answered our country’s call. As we fulfill our obligations to them, we keep faith with the patriots who have risked their lives to preserve our Union, and with the ideals of service and sacrifice upon which our Republic was founded.”
Unfortunately, to many of our veterans the day signifies another day of fighting a debilitating illness suffered during their service in the military. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, there were nearly 21.9 million military veterans in the U.S. in 2009. Of those, about 5.5 million now suffer from some form of disability. A small number of these veterans are suffering from mesothelioma or asbestosis, caused by years of exposure to asbestos during their military service.
A recent study shines a light on the devastating effect of mesothelioma on veterans who served from World War II through the Vietnam era. The study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology analyzed 928 veterans. Researchers found the average veteran had about seven months to live after diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Due to the popularity of asbestos with the military, it has been estimated that nearly 30 percent of veterans who served between the 1940s and 1970s may have been exposed. For those exposed to asbestos, many factors determine whether or not they will develop mesothelioma. These factors include how much exposure, how long the exposure lasted, the fiber type and how they were exposed to the mineral. Age, sex, diet, family traits, lifestyle (including whether you smoke tobacco), and general health are also determinants.
Approximately 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.