By way of introduction I am Bob Jones, former Executive Director of AMVETS (American Veterans) 
and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA. I also served as a Special 
Assistant to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Presently I am working with the Veterans Rights Coalition (VRC).

VRC is a group of concerned veterans from around the country who have banded together in a "watch dog" organization to ensure veterans 
are aware of key issues and legislation that may affect them. Here in the Washington, DC, area we count in our ranks the 
Honorable Hershel Gober, former Deputy Secretary and Acting Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, 
The Honorable Mary Lou Keener former General Counsel of the Department of Veterans Affairs and 
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Force Management and Personnel, and Mr. Larry Rivers Past Commander-in-Chief, 
Adjutant General and Washington Office Executive Director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. This dedicated 
group of veteran advocates has approximately 100 years of experience advocating for veterans benefits and entitlements.

The purpose of my e-mail is to alert you and my fellow veterans of pending legislation of utmost important to America's veterans. 
This legislation, Senate bill 1125 (S.1125) provides for a much needed Trust Fund solution to the problem of how to compensate 
veterans and other victims suffering from asbestos related diseases. 

For decades (and continuing today!) military veterans, Navy veterans in particular, have been exposed to deadly asbestos. 
Asbestos related illness has a very long latency period, in some cases 10 to 50 years; therefore, many veterans are unaware of 
exposure or the potential consequences to their health. As a result only a relatively small number of veterans have applied to the 
VA for asbestos related compensation. Of this relatively small number of claimants less than one third of them 
receive service connection for their diseases. Claims adjudication for veterans outside the VA system are limited, cumbersome 
and time consuming.

Help may be on the way. There is now a Trust Fund solution to this intractable problem pending in the United States Senate. S. 1125, 
the Trust Fund solution, is a bill introduced by Senator Hatch and others to establish a fair and efficient system to resolve claims 
related to asbestos related illnesses. 

A Trust Fund solution to the asbestos problem is clearly in the best interest of America's veterans. Attached is a paper we have 
prepared entitled "Asbestos Legislation-Better for Vets." I would appreciate it if you could take a moment to review this paper. 
We believe it outlines the merits of S-1125 (The Fair Act of 2003), the Trust Fund solution, and explains why it is in the best interest 
of veterans to be part of a Trust Fund solution to the asbestos problem.

To date veterans have been left out of the legislative process on this important issue; however, it is not too late for our collective voices 
to be heard and for us to play a key role in shaping/passage of a Trust Fund solution to this important veterans legislation. If you agree 
with the Veterans Rights Coalition and your fellow veterans that a Trust Fund solution to the asbestos problem is in our best interest we 
would ask you and your organization to help in moving the legislation to passage in the United States Senate.

The legislation has cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee so it could be brought to the Senate floor for debate/vote at any time. 
Would you write a letter to Senator Hatch encouraging a Trust Fund solution to the asbestos problem and favorable consideration of 
S. 1125? Because time is of the essence I would suggest that if at all possible you fax your letter to him at the Senate Judiciary 
Committee (202) 224-9102 or forward it by E- Mail to I have taken the liberty of preparing a suggested letter 
for your consideration. Please feel free to use it as you may see fit.

I am available to resolve any questions you may have concerning S-1125 (Fair Act of 2003), the Trust Fund solution, to the asbestos problem. 
Just send me a return E- Mail with your telephone number and I will respond. If you or your organization can help by sending a letter of 
support to Senator Hatch please accept our thanks for your help. We will keep you apprised of the status of the legislation and the progress 
we are making. 

Finally, I would appreciate it if you would provide me an Electronic copy of your letter to Senator Hatch 
(or any other letters you may send to senators/congressmen) for my files or fax a copy to me at 703-567-1632. 
Please feel free to share this important information with the members of your organization. If enough veterans demand action we will make a 
difference and our collective voices will be heard!

Thank you for your service to our beloved country and your willingness to address this important veteran's health care concern.

Bob Jones

Asbestos Legislation S.1125 (A Trust Fund Solution) Is Right for Veterans Asbestos use in the military was prevalent during and after World War II, particularly in insulation products built into U.S. Navy ships. Veterans, who served before mid-1970, continue to be diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases due to long latency periods from exposure to the first symptoms of disease. Asbestos related diseases include asbestosis, lung cancers, and mesothelioma. The most severe of these diseases, mesothelioma has no known cure, generally resulting in death within a few years of diagnosis. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma. A November 2003 Wall Street Journal article reported that recent data shows claims from individuals exposed in military and shipyard construction accounted for 26% of all mesothelioma cases, 16% of all other lung-cancer cases, and 13% of all disabling lung-disease cases. According to the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board “There is still a lot of Asbestos on board ships…..” The Department of Veterans Affairs continues to receive claims from veterans for illnesses related to asbestos exposure while serving in the military; however, less than one third of known VA asbestos claimants receive service-connected compensation for their asbestos diseases. Of this number approximately one third of the claimants receive Death Indemnity Compensation. Unfortunately veterans have limited avenues to seek compensation for illness caused by their asbestos exposure. This is so because the Federal government was their “employer,” and their ability to recover from the government is restricted by law. Adding to the recovery difficulty is the fact that many asbestos suppliers to the Federal government have largely gone bankrupt, often providing only pennies on the dollar to victims of asbestos exposure. Furthermore, under the present court system money is often diverted to claimants with no impairment and, where a viable defendant can indeed be found, attorneys – not asbestos victims – receive nearly half the money. The existing systems to adjudicate asbestos claims are cumbersome and time consuming with varying recoveries that often depend simply on the state or locality where the claim is filed. Sadly, many veterans die before their claims are resolved. The Trust Fund solution (S.1125), as envisioned by S. 1125, would establish a compensation system or “Fund” for victims of asbestos exposure. This legislation would pay the most money to the sickest asbestos victims and eliminate the delays and uncertainty of compensation inherent in the present tort/bankruptcy systems. What does the Trust Fund solution mean for veterans? First of all, Trust Fund legislation would not replace or alter the current benefits system available to veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Instead, it would provide an additional avenue of recovery by replacing the current tort system with a Trust Fund process that would provide veterans prompt and fair resolution of claims for their asbestos-related diseases. This streamlined process will assure that sick asbestos veterans receive fair compensation from the Trust Fund while pursing VA assistance. Trust Fund solution (S.1125) overview: The Trust Fund solution envisioned in S.1125 will bring much-needed compensation to veterans suffering from asbestos related diseases and end the vagaries and lengthy delays of the current tort/bankruptcy systems. ? No-Fault System: Claimants with eligible asbestos-related disease will be compensated on a no-fault basis. They will not be required to identify a defendant (asbestos manufacturer), prove causation or culpability by a particular defendant or show exposures related to a particular defendant’s products or premises. ? Procedure: Compensation will be awarded quickly to veterans/claimants after the evaluation of claims applications and supporting evidence. Administrative and judicial review will be available to resolve disputes involving individual eligibility determinations. ? Eligibility: The eligibility criteria include diagnostic, latency, exposure and medical requirements. Compensable asbestos- related diseases include Mesothelioma, Lung Cancers, Other Cancers (colorectal, laryngeal, esophageal, pharyngeal, stomach), and eligible Non-malignant Diseases, including asbestosis. Claimants who do not have a compensable disease may be eligible for medical monitoring reimbursement and can file a claim should they get sick at a later date. ? Compensation: Compensation ranges from $20,000 for claimants with a “mixed respiratory disease” (a disease associated with smoking and a disease associated with asbestos exposure), $75,000 to $750,000 for asbestosis depending on the severity, and $1 million for mesothelioma. Awards for claimants with lung cancer depend on the claimant’s smoking history, with the highest amount of compensation -- $1 million -- going to lifetime nonsmokers with underlying asbestosis and lung cancer. Claimants will receive money on an expedited basis. ? Benefits for Veterans – In addition to establishing a system that provides fair and prompt compensation to victims of asbestos exposure the Trust Fund solution (S.1125) provides veterans several advantages without impacting the benefits available to them under other Federal programs. ? Veterans’ Benefits Protected: The Trust Fund (S.1125) solution preempts all claims for asbestos-related injuries except claims brought under Workers’ Compensation and Veterans’ Benefits Programs. S. 1125, therefore, keeps intact the benefits currently available to Veterans. A veteran receiving compensation due from the Trust Fund may receive his/her VA benefits either before or after filing a claim with the Trust fund. ? No Collateral Source Rule: In many courts, payments received by an individual from VA may reduce the actual amount received from a defendant in a lawsuit. This is known as the “collateral source” rule. Such reductions vary and depend on the law of the State in which the suit is brought. Although S. 1125 requires reductions for recoveries from collateral sources (e.g., settlements or claims filed in the tort system or against a bankruptcy trust), the requirement excludes reimbursement for recovery under Veterans’ Benefits Programs, i.e., the amount the veteran receives from the Trust Fund will not be reduced by amounts he received/is receiving from VA. ? U.S. Ships and Overseas Exposures Expressly Included: During the Committee process, the Trust Fund solution (S. 1125) was expanded to apply to exposures to U.S. Citizens occurring on U.S. owned ships and occurring overseas for while working for U.S. entities. ? Dependants: In the case of death of the veteran, his/her spouse or children may recover from the Trust Fund. The amount the family is entitled to receive is the same amount the victim would have been recovered were he/she still alive. ? Evidentiary Burden Reduced: Because the Trust fund solution (S. 1125) contemplates a no-fault system, the evidentiary burden on the veteran is reduced. Unlike Veterans’ Benefits, there is no “service-related” requirement, which eases the burden of proof on those individuals who were exposed while in the military and while employed as a civilian. Unlike the present tort system, there is no requirement to show exposure to a particular defendant’s asbestos product. ? Pre-1976 and World War II Exposures Weighted More Heavily: Asbestos-related injuries, with the exception of mesothelioma, are generally caused by high exposures to asbestos occurring over a long period of time. The types of exposures associated with asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestosis, were largely eliminated in the late 1970’s when the Federal government began to regulate the use of asbestos and exposures. The exposure requirements in the Trust Fund solution (S. 1125) depend on occupation and years of exposure. However, S. 1125 recognizes that military exposures occurring prior to 1976 were more significant than those exposures occurring after 1976, especially for employees working at shipyards during World War II. As such, the Trust Fund solution (S. 1125) reduces the exposure requirements for these types of exposures by weighting them more heavily. ? Take-Home Exposures Covered: Family members exposed to asbestos brought into the home by workers directly exposed to asbestos fibers (known as take home exposures) who contract a compensable asbestos-related injury may also be eligible for compensation under the Trust Fund solution (S. 1125). This provision is particularly important to veterans because within the VA compensation system there are no provisions/recourse for dependents of veterans who suffer from “carry home” exposure or exposure to airborne asbestos fibers in the home. ? Medical Monitoring: Eligible claimants may seek reimbursement for medical monitoring costs, granting the opportunity to seek medical attention at the hospital of their choice. ? Claims and Legal Assistance Provided: The Trust Fund solution (S. 1125) establishes a claims and legal assistance program to help claimants submit claims or to find free legal help to file their claims. -END-
January 26, 2004 Senator Orin G. Hatch Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee 224 Dirksen Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Dear Mr. Chairman: The (ORGANIZATION NAME) does not believe the current asbestos resolution process serves the best interest of America’s veterans. The process is clearly broken; therefore, the status quo, i.e., resolving asbestos related claims through the courts within the frame work of existing tort law, is no longer acceptable to us. We support a Trust Fund solution to this problem and encourage you and your colleagues to work for passage of legislation that would put a Trust Fund solution in place. Senator Hatch, veterans suffering from asbestos related illness should not be forced to remain mired in a system that does not work. Many veterans do not receive timely resolution - or adequate compensation - despite years of waiting for their claims to be adjudicated. Further, the insidious, debilitating and deadly diseases associated with asbestos exposure result in high morbidity and many die before they have their day in court. Justice delayed is truly justice denied. These delays must end. Senate Bill 1125 (S-1125), designed to create a fair and efficient system to resolve asbestos claims, provides the framework for an acceptable Trust Fund solution to the asbestos problem. We therefore support this legislation. However, as you and your colleagues flesh out the final details of the bill I encourage you to seek input from veteran service organizations, concerned veterans and the Department of Veterans Affairs. This legislation is important to America’s veterans and I urge you to include them in the process and address their legitimate concerns. On behalf of (ORGANIZATION NAME) we thank you for your service in the United States Senate and your willingness to assist those in the Armed Services and their dependents, past and present, who suffer from deadly asbestos related diseases. Sincerely; Commander/Executive Director/Legislative Director