The current crisis has swept the entire world, deeply changing almost everything about our lives as we knew them. Currently, the U.S has the most cases and deaths of the entire world and while everyone is making huge efforts in order to flatten the curve, respecting social distancing measures and all other safety precautions recommended by the CDC and WHO, it still seems that there might be a while until the crisis dies down and we can return to normal.
At some level, everyone is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but those who are most at risk of catching the virus and developing severe complications are people suffering from one or more chronic conditions such as diabetes, respiratory and lung diseases, or cancer and those who are of advanced age. Veterans (which make approximately 7% of the nation’s population) are among the people in the group with the highest risk for contracting the novel coronavirus and if so, developing severe complications due to their advanced age and existing comorbidities. Many of them have developed serious illnesses as a result of toxic exposure to various agents during their time in the military. If so, they are entitled to receiving compensation which can cover the costs of the very expensive medical bills.
Why Veterans Exposed to Toxic Agents Might Be More Susceptible to Getting COVID-19
During their time serving the country, many veterans might have been exposed to toxic agents that could be found in various parts of military ships, demolished buildings, aircraft hangars, or training facilities. This type of exposure is extremely dangerous and can have serious health consequences. For a very long time, the use of toxic agents such as asbestos, agent orange, or PFAS chemicals wasn’t regulated in the U.S., which made them become very popular and widely used in virtually every industry and thousands of products.
Until recently, their effects weren’t even very well known although there have been some scientists linking asbestos for example, to cancer, as early as 1920. But over the last two decades, numerous studies have shown just how harmful the exposure to these toxic agents can be and that they can be a direct cause to the development of chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma, COPD or chronic bronchitis, lung diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis, asbestosis or lung cancer and even other types of cancers developing in various parts of the body such as the throat, kidneys, colon or testicles. Considering the correlation between toxic exposure and the development of these diseases, we can presume that many veterans who have served up until the 1980s in various branches of the military, might now suffer from a chronic condition that can seriously put them at risk today, in the context of the current pandemic and how this virus attacks.
What Are The Diseases That Make Veterans Eligible For Compensation
Certain diseases make veterans immediately eligible to receive compensation from asbestos trust funds or the VA, as they might be a direct consequence of military toxic exposure. The process does require the help of a legal expert as it can amount to quite a lot of documentation and legal procedures. The following diagnoses directly qualify for receiving compensation:
- Lung cancer
- Bronchial cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Gastrointestinal cancer
- Laryngeal cancer
Some other diseases such as COPD, asthma, pleural plaques, lung nodules, or emphysema require additional medical documentation and examination to determine the presence of toxic agents in the body.
Veterans Compensation During The COVID-19 Pandemic
Suffering from an illness that can be traced back to toxic exposure can make veterans eligible for compensation which is a great help considering how expensive medical bills can be. This type of compensation can be recovered in various ways but most commonly through asbestos trust funds and VA claims.
Living with a toxic exposure-related disease gives veterans the right to claim financial compensation as well as a wide range of state benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs offers benefits for all U.S. military branches in order to help cover their medical expenses. It is extremely important to file a claim as soon as they receive their diagnosis, as the deadlines can vary by state and are usually between 2-3 years from the moment of receiving a diagnosis or the death of the patient. Waiting to file a claim more than the period specified in the statute of limitations can lead to losing the compensation.
This current crisis has hit veterans and their families especially hard. It’s a stressful and unprecedented situation and if they have an asbestos claim in progress, it’s important to know how and if this period may affect their claims. The VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration has temporarily closed its regional offices in response to the COVID-19 crisis but veterans can still 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.
Families of Those Suffering From Toxic Exposure-Related Diseases Can Also Receive Compensation
Many veterans and their families are probably wondering during this period if in the unfortunate case that they pass away due to COVID-19 they still qualify for receiving compensation. The answer is yes, if a veteran dies of a service-related illness, surviving family members can qualify for a monthly payment known as dependency and compensation. But it’s recommended that veterans and their family members start all the necessary procedures to receive compensation during their lifetime, as receiving benefits and compensation may become more difficult to recover after dying.
About the Author
Gregory A. Cade is the principal attorney at Environmental Litigation Group P.C, a law firm that specializes in helping victims of toxic exposure recover compensation. With over 30 years of experience backed up by his degree in Industrial Hygiene, he is dedicated to helping the Alabama community, veterans, cancer patients, and everyone who has been affected by toxic exposure.