Each year on November 11, Veterans Day allows us to celebrate and honor U.S. military veterans. Whether they were involved in combat or helped protect America from behind the scenes, all veterans deserve our gratitude.
Even after their time of service comes to an end, some veterans continue fighting battles upon returning home, including mental health conditions, physical disabilities, and long-term illnesses such as mesothelioma.
Veterans and Mesothelioma
As a rare and fatal form of cancer, mesothelioma has only one known cause: prolonged exposure to asbestos. Without proper protective equipment, asbestos dust in the air can be easily inhaled or swallowed. Anyone exposed to asbestos could develop cancer later in life.
Before asbestos was known to cause mesothelioma, it was considered a miracle product because it is resistant to heat, electricity, sound, and water.
Manufacturers of asbestos-containing products first learned asbestos was harmful to human health in the 1930s. However, they still continued to produce asbestos-containing products, prioritizing profits above health.
Between the 1930s and the 1980s, the U.S. military used asbestos in bases, buildings, vehicles, ships, and other assets. By the time the U.S. military became aware of the dangers of asbestos and stopped using the mineral, thousands of veterans had already been put at risk of mesothelioma.
Today, veterans make up approximately 33% of all mesothelioma patients.
Mesothelioma typically takes between 10 and 50 years to develop. In many cases, by the time veterans notice their symptoms, the disease has likely progressed and mesothelioma treatment options have become limited. And while mesothelioma can be treated, it has no cure.
Ways You Can Celebrate Veterans Day 2022
There are several meaningful ways your family can honor a veteran with mesothelioma this year. Read more to find out how you can celebrate.
Connect With Veterans
Reaching out to a veteran with mesothelioma on Veterans Day can lift their spirits. A limited number of hospitals are equipped to properly treat mesothelioma patients, so veterans may need to travel far from home to receive life-extending treatments.
If there are concerns regarding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, especially during flu season, families may not be able to visit veterans fighting mesothelioma in person. Fortunately, there are other ways to check in. Video conference apps, such as FaceTime, Skype, Webex, or Zoom can allow you to see and speak with a veteran through the internet. Even a simple phone call can lift a veteran’s spirits during this difficult time.
Making a Veterans Day donation is another great way to show your support.
For Veterans Day 2022, consider donating to:
- Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation: This non-profit organization is dedicated to finding a cure for mesothelioma. You can make a general donation or one specifically in honor of a loved one who is sick or has died.
- Veterans Affairs Hospitals: The United States Department of Veterans Affairs allows donors to choose which hospital or health care clinic receives their donation.
These are just two of many groups or hospitals that accept donations. You can discuss your donation options with your family to decide which organization(s) you would like to donate to this year.
Create Care Packages
You can order care packages for veterans or military personnel currently serving. These care packages can help veterans and service members know they are still remembered.
Organizations like Operation Gratitude deliver care packages to veterans and active-duty personnel all over the world.
Through Operation Gratitude, you can:
- Mail a package to a specific service member currently deployed
- Ship a premade care package to an anonymous veteran or service member
- Volunteer to make gifts for care packages, such as letters and bracelets
Raise Awareness About Mesothelioma
If a veteran you love is currently battling mesothelioma or has succumbed to the disease, another great way to show your support is by raising awareness about this form of cancer.
Here are some ways to raise awareness about mesothelioma:
- Host a digital fundraiser that can spread awareness among veterans and their families
- Schedule a phone call or virtual meeting with your local government representative to discuss the issues of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma
- Write a news or magazine editorial about mesothelioma and veterans
Remember, until asbestos has been banned and removed from all structures, it still poses a threat. For example, older buildings, vehicles, or machines may still contain asbestos. If the asbestos is disturbed, someone could breathe it in and get sick.
Make Veterans Day 2022 Special
Getting involved on Veterans Day 2022 allows us to honor the sacrifices that our service members have made.
Veterans will always carry the experiences of their military service, whether they are positive, traumatic, or both. In some cases, veterans sacrifice their lives for their country, either in the line of duty or long after they have served due to mesothelioma or other disabilities.
By doing your part this Veterans Day, you can honor the bravery and sacrifices our veterans made — and continue to make — for our country.