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WI State VFW Commander Sends Strong Vets Day Message to Legislature

PHOTO: Wisconsin State VFW Commander Renee Simpson says SB 13 would be unfair to the many veterans who were exposed to asbestos because of their occupations in the military. Photo used with permission of Wisconsin VFW.
PHOTO: Wisconsin State VFW Commander Renee Simpson says SB 13 would be unfair to the many veterans who were exposed to asbestos because of their occupations in the military. Photo used with permission of Wisconsin VFW.
November 11, 2013

CAMP DOUGLAS, Wis. - Veterans make up eight percent of the population, but account for 30 percent of all mesothelioma deaths. On Veterans Day, State VFW Commander Renee Simpson has a strong message for the Wisconsin legislators about a bill they are considering: Don't delay justice for veterans who were exposed to asbestos while serving the nation.

"A lot of our veterans were exposed to asbestos on Navy ships, and a lot of our veterans were also exposed to asbestos in the barracks that they slept in," Simpson said.

Senate Bill 13 would impose more paperwork and procedural steps on anyone suing over asbestos exposure. Supporters say it will prevent abuse, but veterans groups insist there is no abuse.

Virtually every Navy ship built before 1970 contained several tons of asbestos insulation, she explained, as do hundreds of military installations that still have asbestos flooring, ceiling tiles and insulation. It was horrible to watch her father die of mesothelioma, she said.

"The treatments for it, I mean, they're so rough on the body. If he would have went through with having them removing lung lining and so on and so forth, to hopefully give him a few more months of life, it would have taken him a year to just recover from that surgery," she said.

Her father died within a year of his diagnosis, and Simpson said the last thing veterans and their families need is more hoops to jump through in pursuing justice for their loved ones.

According to Simpson, veterans are being diagnosed with mesothelioma at alarming rates. As vets are honored for their service on this Veterans Day, Simpson said she wants state legislators to hear her message, loud and clear.

"I want them to take away that time frame. Don't add more hurdles to something that's going to take somebody's life so quickly. They should be able to see justice before they pass on. We don't need to add more drama or issue for the family members or the veteran, or any victim," she said.

A substitute bill, which would have removed the delays and what some see as extra burdens, was voted down in the legislature.



Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI