75 years ago today, the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor, resulting in 2,403 deaths and America’s entrance into World War II. Over 16 million Americans served in the war, over 6 million of whom were volunteers. This sacrifice for the greater good of the world was what led Tom Brokaw to call these Americans “the greatest generation any society has ever produced."
On this December 7th, we at the Cancer Support Community join with all Americans in thanking World War II veterans and all veterans for their service to our country as we renew our commitment to ensure that no one faces cancer alone.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates there are roughly 620,000 living American World War II veterans. Cancer has been and continues to be a major cause of death and distress for these veterans. Lung cancer alone has taken more years off the lives of World War II veterans than combat fatalities. This high rate of lung cancer can be partially explained by exposure to asbestos on submarines and ships.
Overall, 40,000 new cases of cancer are reported to the VA each year, accounting for 3% of cases in the U.S. The VA does essential treatment and research work, but it doesn’t have the resources to provide the kind of emotional support essential to people affected by cancer. They instead recommend that veterans of all ages living with cancer reach out to non-profits like the Cancer Support Community.
The VA estimates that we lose 372 American World War II veterans each day. If there’s a World War II veteran in your life, take the time to ask them about what they’ve experienced in their lifetime. And if there’s a World War II veteran, or anyone else, in your life with cancer, encourage them to utilize our resources – such as the Cancer Support Helpline – or to go to one of our affiliate locations to receive the social and emotional support that is a vital part of any cancer treatment.