discussing Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the development of Chinese
military capacity has a couple of telling remarks in it that apply to
military spending habits. He mentions the “cyclical view” of American
military decline that has occurred among foreign nations many times,
notably in the late 1970s. It is fair to say that the view of American
military readiness is related to American military spending not only on
new weapons systems, but on the maintenance of existing equipment and
the numbers of men and women on active duty.
U.S. military spending was reduced dramatically and U.S. interest in
maintaining a large combat-ready military dropped to peacetime
expectations. Korea and Vietnam
changed that pattern in the military for the length of those conflicts,
but military spending during non-combat years has always been focused
on new systems and not upkeep. The result over the decades has been the
accumulation of outmoded bases, facilities and in the case of the Navy,
victims have been veterans. And the majority of the veterans who were
at risk for asbestos cancer are Navy veterans. Sailors and shipyard
workers who served on and worked on World War II Navy vessels were
exposed to asbestos in engine rooms, alongside boilers, from the miles
of pipe on the ships, and from the insulation and fire protection
materials used in ship construction.
Navy from 1930 to about 1970 was fitted with tons of asbestos
insulation, the perfect material for Navy use because of its insulation
and fire resistant properties. Sailors inhaled asbestos fibers from the
insulation that covered boilers and pipes and that was used for gaskets
and packing in pumps and valves. Thousands of them got sick.
asbestos is a carcinogen the Navy was fairly proactive in cleaning up
its ships and eliminating asbestos products from newly built craft as
well as in existing Navy bases and shipyards. But cleaning up all that
asbestos in all those ships and locations took years and for many Cold
War veterans asbestos exposure was a common occurrence. The USS
Enterprise still has an asbestos abatement team on board, an example of
the health risks associated with vessels of that era.
is forty years or more. For asbestosis it can be twenty to thirty
years. So Cold War vets who were unknowingly exposed to asbestos during
active duty may just now be getting sick. After decades of denial the
VA has finally recognized asbestos related disease
as possibly related to active duty. It’s not easy to prove: the
military insists that you be able to demonstrate that asbestos exposure
occurred during active duty.
don’t think that because your service came after 1945 the asbestos
threat in active Navy duty is unlikely. Asbestos use was so common and
so pervasive that exposure in all military branches continued through
the twentieth century.
writer for AsbestosNews.com, a resource on health risks and hazards
commonly linked to dangerous levels of asbestos exposure, such as
asbestosis and mesothelioma.