War is nothing trivial. It may not always be necessary, but the men and women who fight for and protect our country always are. They are brave, intelligent, able, and absolutely necessary. Though we can’t always protect them from many of the danger they face overseas, we can protect their long term health through spreading awareness of dangers like mesothelioma and asbestosis.
As early as 1920, the U. S. Military has been using a natural mineral as a building supply. Used for its fire-resistant qualities in ships, planes, and other parts, asbestos is perfectly safe if undisturbed. In fact, asbestos was thought of as a safe and inexpensive material. But when the materials that contain asbestos are cut, sanded, broken, or burnt, microscopic fibers are released into the air.
Because asbestos was often used in materials located in enclosed spaces, men and women who worked with or near the damaged asbestos end up inhaling or ingesting it. Over time, this causes mesothelioma. Mesothelioma symptoms include a cough, shortness of breath, and chest heaviness. Because these symptoms are subtle, they are mesothelioma is often misdiagnosed and the required treatment often postponed as a result.
Asbestosis is also caused by prolonged exposure to toxic asbestos, but results in the scarring of the tissue of the lungs. Such scarring prevents the lungs from contracting and expanding properly, which in turn inhibits gas exchange. Without the gas exchange necessary for cellular respiration, muscle and brain functions can be impaired. Symptoms of asbestos are almost identical to mesothelioma.
Veterans who experience asbestosis and mesothelioma symptoms should be encouraged to request a cancer screening from their doctor. Screenings include chest x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and PET scans. Because of the latency period of mesothelioma and asbestosis (20-50 years), veterans may not recognize symptoms until the cancer has spread to other vital organs. By then, treatment is either difficult or impossible.
If you or someone you know and love has served in the military, whether in World War II, the Vietnam Conflict, or during today’s troubled times, impress upon them the need to screen for cancer and asbestosis. Our men and women fought and still fight for us; it’s time protect them as best we can.
[Thank you, Tiffany. Your article is well-written and very timely! My warmest regards, and best wishes in your studies! ~CJ]
“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale