Legislation will assist Arizona's ailing veterans

Many thousands of veterans suffer today from debilitating and even deadly diseases caused by asbestos exposure during their military service. But the current unfair and illogical litigation system fails to provide these veterans and their families with the relief they need and deserve.

The inability of sick veterans to receive compensation for asbestos-related injuries is such a large concern that the Veterans of Foreign Wars, for the second year in a row, recently passed a national resolution urging the U.S. Congress to pass national asbestos victims' trust fund legislation.

Veterans were exposed to asbestos because it was widely used by the military until the mid-1970s.

Today, veterans are barred by law from seeking compensation for their injuries from their former employer, the U.S. government, in the courts. And because most of the companies that supplied asbestos to the government no longer exist. If veterans with asbestos-related illnesses are fortunate enough to find a solvent defendant to sue, they are faced with a tort system that is cumbersome and time consuming. Too often, the most critically ill die of asbestos-related illnesses without ever seeing a dime compensation.

That is why veterans need the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution (FAIR) Act, a bill currently pending in the U.S. Senate, which would replace the current broken system with a national asbestos victims' trust fund. This new system would ensure that veterans get quick and just compensation.

As the VFW resolution states, a trust fund solution will end "the vagaries and lengthy delays of the current tort system." And veterans who receive compensation from the fund can still receive benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs compensation system.

As an Arizona veteran, I want to thank Senator Jon Kyl for voting the FAIR Act out of the Judiciary Committee. I now call on Sen. McCain and Senator Jon Kyl to think of Arizona's sick veterans and vote yes for the FAIR Act when it comes up for a vote on the Senate floor.

George K. Mead,

Past State Commander

AZ Dept. Veterans of

Foreign Wars

Phoenix, Ariz.

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