The number of American veterans who were at Pearl Harbor 70 years ago when the United States was attacked and drawn into World War II is dwindling to a precious few.
Yet the historic significance of Pearl Harbor Day has only grown.
At The Mesothelioma Center, we speak with many veterans who tell us Dec. 7 is engrained in their psyche as a special day.
Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor. A number of memorials and commemorations are planned across the nation, including Hawaii.
Our Veterans Department staff often speaks with veterans from all branches of service and different eras. Some of those on our staff have fathers who served in WW II, which gives them a special appreciation for those who men.
The anniversary of Pearl Harbor reminds everyone of a time when the country was truly behind the military, the president and the government. Everyone was united. Those men were heroes; they made a difference in the world.
In an effort to honor their service and rights, the Veterans Department at The Mesothelioma Center works with many veterans, helping them negotiate the sometimes confusing VA benefits application process. Our team often meets those who were exposed to asbestos during their time of service, some of whom have developed mesothelioma many years later.
Many of the veterans who were in the military during that time are so proud of their service. Imagine what they went through, how they surviving a world war, returned home in one piece and later discovered they are going to die prematurely from asbestos exposure that came from their service in the military. Despite that grim diagnosis, it doesn’t change the way many of them feel about their service. It cannot be taken away from them.
Part of the role of our Veterans Department is explaining the benefits available to veterans. Benefits they are entitled to and deserve. Although they don’t hold the military responsible for the asbestos exposure, they can hold companies responsible that knew just how toxic the asbestos was being sold to the military.
A number of WW II vets have balked at the idea of even filing a VA claim because they didn’t want to do anything they felt could hurt the service. At The Mesothelioma Center, we explain to them that it doesn’t hurt anyone.
For us, Pearl Harbor Day recalls the expression: “If you can read, thank a teacher. If you can read English, thank a veteran.”
That saying applies to those men who fought that war.