When you think of the issues that are important to veterans today, asbestos litigation reform might not be the first thing you think of. But thousands of veterans are sick from being exposed to asbestos while they were in the military. Unfortunately, these military men and women don’t have many options for obtaining compensation. The fact is: the only sure way sick veterans will ever be assured of compensation for their asbestos-related injuries is through a complete overhaul of our asbestos litigation system.

During World War II and up to the Vietnam War, asbestos was used throughout the military for fireproofing and insulation. Because of the long latency period associated with these diseases, many of our veterans from that time are now being diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.

But veterans are barred from suing the federal government, their employer while they were in the military. The only companies vets can possibly sue are the ones who supplied the military with asbestos products. But almost all of those companies are now bankrupt, leaving sick veterans with literally no where to turn for help or compensation.

Veterans who are able to enter the court system face lengthy waits for court dates. It has been estimated that hundreds of thousands of asbestos cases today clog our courts and a good percentage of those cases have been filed by people who aren’t even sick.

Some members of Congress think the best way to clean the system up is to set up a strict medical criteria system to define who can and can’t file asbestos claims in our courts. But this solution won’t really help veterans, because it leaves the system in courts.

What veterans need is a solution like S. 3274, a bill now pending in the Senate, which would establish a no-fault victims’ trust fund. If this vital bill is enacted, all truly sick victims, including veterans, would be able to able to draw from a trust fund financed by defendant companies and their insurers.

This common sense solution will operate outside the tort system, which means sick veterans would not need to name a defendant company. This is a solution Congress should rally around. It will ensure that the all victims of asbestos exposed get the fast and certain compensation they deserve – not just the civilians.

I therefore call on our U.S. Senators Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar to support this critical bill before time runs out.


by Jack Mason, Sr.

Past State Commander Indiana Department of the Veterans of Foreign Wars

The Waynedale News Staff

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