An estimated 30 percent of all mesothelioma cases stem from asbestos exposure during military service, an alarming statistic that emphasizes the need to help those who have helped protect their country. And the overall number of veterans who must cope with asbestos related cancers is much higher than 30 percent.
The good news is there are organizations that aim to help veterans if they find themselves battling cancer. Although there is no program that exclusively helps mesothelioma-stricken veterans, here are some suggestions of charitable groups that come to the aid of veterans.
Explore VA provides resources for Veterans and their families interested in learning about and applying for disability compensation benefits, including benefit eligibility, the application process, benefits ratings and rates, and spouse and dependents’ compensation eligibility.www.explore.va.gov
Disabled American Veterans (DAV) is designed to help build better lives for disabled vets. It includes regional offices throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, serving veterans and their dependents. Founded in 1920 by veterans after World War I, the DAV today includes 1.2 million members, dedicated to helping those returning home from military service. It includes a voluntary service program that provides free transportation services to and from VA medical centers throughout the country. It also gives considerable help with claims for benefits from the VA. It is a non-profit, 501 (c) 4 charity.www.dav.org
The American Legion began as a patriotic veteran’s organization in 1919, focusing on service to veterans and their communities. Through the years, it founded many programs, including those for children, in communities around the country. One of its best-known programs is American Legion Baseball. Its effort in the early years led to the creation of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and today the American Legion lobbies for funding to cover medical, disability and education for veterans. It is the nation’s largest veterans service organization. It is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization with considerable political influence because of its grass-roots involvement in the legislative process.www.legion.org/
The roots of Veterans of Foreign Wars can be traced to 1899 and veterans of the Spanish-American War. It also helped fund memorials from the Vietnam War, Korean War and World War II. It played a key role in helping create the original GI bill and the development of the national cemetery system. There are an estimated 2.1 million members in the VFW and its Auxiliary, providing more than 11 million hours of volunteer work in communities. The VFW provides college scholarships and savings bonds to students each year.www.vfw.org/
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund works to preserve the legacy of a war that was, and still is, misunderstood. Its goal is to promote healing for those who lived it and education for those who want to learn from it. The fund was established in 1979 to help build the memorial – a wall of names of fallen soldiers – that stands today. Its most recent initiative is building an education center to help visitors learn more about those who died. There are six events held each year at the memorial in Washington, D.C. It also has a traveling education program that helps both teachers and students around the country learn more.www.vvmf.org/
AMVETS has provided assistance since the end of World War II, offering a helping hand to veterans and their families. It is a volunteer-led organization that is open to anyone currently serving, or who has honorably served, from WW II to the present. It includes the National Guard and Reserves.
The outreach effort includes everything from professional advice on VA benefits, to legislative efforts on Capitol Hill, to work done by hospital volunteers. The commitment is driven by community service and veteran service.www.amvets.org
Veterans For Peace is a national organization that was founded in 1985 and dedicated to finding peaceful alternatives to war. Members include veterans from all eras and all duty stations. “Our collective experience tells us that wars are easy to start, and hard to stop, and that those hurt are often the innocent,” it says on the organization’s mission statement. VFP is an official Non-Governmental Organization represented at the United Nations. The national office is in St. Louis, MO, but it also includes organized chapters and at-large members across the country.www.veteransforpeace.org/
Combat Stress exists for the care of veterans’ mental health. It provides treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and anxiety disorders. It Veterans in the UK reserve the services for free. The organization was founded in 1919, first treating servicemen from World War I, a time when mental breakdowns were hardly recognized as real, receiving little sympathy. The organization has a caseload today estimated at 4,400 nationwide. Its goal is to rebuild lives of those who served their country, providing specialized clinical treatment on a localized basis.www.combatstress.org.uk