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Sat, Oct. 19

VFW urges Arizona senators to vote for Asbestos Reform Act

Special to the Review

Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, The Retired Enlisted Association, and more than a dozen other national veterans groups have thrown their support behind legislation that would ensure sick veterans with asbestos-related diseases are treated fairly.  S. 3274, the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act, will treat sick veterans with the dignity and respect they deserve. 

I call on Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl to join them in their support of this critical legislation. 

Nearly everyone agrees that the asbestos litigation system as it exists today is horribly broken.  Sick victims must wait years before they see a judge because the courts are inundated with claims.  Meanwhile, many sick veterans aren't even able to enter the tort system. 

Thousands of our nation's veterans were exposed to asbestos fibers while serving in the military years ago.  Because of the long latency periods associated with asbestos-related diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma, veterans exposed to asbestos decades ago are just now being diagnosed with often deadly diseases. 

Unlike civilians who can hold their employers liable if their exposure took place while they were working, sick veterans are prohibited from seeking compensation from the federal government through the courts.  Instead, veterans must seek out the corporations that sold asbestos to the military.  Most of these companies have long since gone bankrupt.

Without the FAIR Act, sick veterans will continue to be excluded by our tort system.

The FAIR Act would establish a no-fault victims' trust fund financed entirely by defendant companies and their insurers that would operate outside the tort system.  All truly sick victims would draw compensation from the fund.  No tax dollars would ever be used to finance the fund.

It is clear to me that this bill is our best chance at providing all sick victims, including veterans, with the compensation they need.  But time is running out and Congress must act soon.  I urge Senators McCain and Kyl to help veterans in Arizona and across the country by supporting the FAIR Act.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, with its Auxiliaries, includes 2.4 million members in about 9,000 posts worldwide. Its mission is to "honor the dead by helping the living" through veterans' service, community service, national security and a strong national defense.

George "Ken" Mead is the Past State Commander Arizona Department of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

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