Decorated U.S. Army Capt. Aaron Munz loves serving those with whom he once served so proudly.
Munz, a VA Accredited Claims Agent, is the director of the Veterans Department at The Mesothelioma Center and Asbestos.com, working daily with former military personnel who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.
Munz, who received the Bronze Star Medal for Valor in 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, left active duty in 2006 after serving nine years in combat and strategic training. He never lost the desire to work toward a common good.
“My professional career has been focused on service, and helping others. It’s why I joined the military originally. I wanted to serve my country,” Munz said. “This move seemed like a natural progression for me. My desire to help in any way I can is what brought me to this advocacy team.”
Munz is available to help guide veterans and their families through the complex Veterans Administration (VA) claims process, walking them through the paperwork step by step.
Veterans have been hit with a disproportionate amount of asbestos-related diseases, stemming from the military’s past reliance on the naturally occurring toxic mineral.
It was used extensively on ships, planes and trucks for its ability to strengthen and resist heat — protecting soldiers and sailors — yet later becoming more hazardous as it aged, creating future health issues for many.
Munz’s expertise in the military’s use of asbestos will prove invaluable to anyone filing a disability claim involving mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung cancer.
The New York native graduated from Wake Forest University in North Carolina before entering the military. He received his master’s degree in education from North Carolina State University following his military service. He taught U.S. history and social studies for five years in Raleigh’s public school system before joining The Mesothelioma Center.
“I loved teaching, but I still have a strong connection to the military and a real respect for the veterans who served,” he said. “To see guys who did the right thing, and then have something horrific, like mesothelioma, strike them, through no fault of their own, you just want to help them.”
A service-related exposure makes veterans with asbestos diseases eligible for financial benefits beyond the normal help they receive through the VA. Munz understands the system well, and how best to use it.
An estimated 30 percent of all mesothelioma cases filed today involve military veterans.
“When you’re getting shot at in a war situation — defending your country — the last thing you would ever think about was asbestos exposure,” he said. “But it happened to a lot of good people. When you see guys 40 years after they served, getting this disease, you want to help. I have that opportunity here.”
An Accredited Claims Agent is certified by the VA, which requires very specific evidence for the medical diagnosis of any asbestos-related claim and specific information about asbestos exposure through a veteran’s lifetime.
The accreditation allows Munz to assist both the veteran and his or her family.
A Claims Agent understands the criteria used, and the evidence needed, for the VA to make a service-connected decision on asbestos claims. Munz will explain how you may have been exposed to asbestos products during military service by discussing the jobs you performed, where you were stationed and what type of equipment you used.
He will help you identify how and where the exposure may have happened. The information is used to write an in-depth exposure summary that describes what led to your asbestos-related illness.
Munz is meticulous and organized in his approach. It’s one of the reasons he rose to the rank of captain. As a top commander, he led more than 300 combat operations against insurgents in Iraq. He helped secure U.S. and Iraqi infrastructure, maintain and enforce local and international law. He became a senior advisor to the new Iraqi government city council in Aqar Quf.
He returned home to become an information operations trainer for the Army National Training Center, where he helped develop new training regimens for units being deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I’m doing something that’s bigger than me,” he said. “It’s why I was drawn to this at The Mesothelioma Center.”