Unfortunately, military veterans comprise one of the highest risk groups for asbestos exposure and in the United States.
It is estimated that many thousands of living American veterans were exposed to asbestos during their tours of duty.
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that is valued for its insulation and heat resistance properties.
It was widely used by every military branch, mostly for insulation purposes in ships, planes, vehicles, buildings and military housing.
Exposure to asbestos is the only cause of a form of cancer known as mesothelioma, from which thousands of American veterans suffer.
Those who are U.S. Navy and Coast Guard Veterans and shipyard workers are among the highest risk group for developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases like asbestosis.
The reason for this is that, between the 1930s and the 1970s every ship and shipyard constructed by the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard was built with the use of a number of asbestos-containing materials.
In fact, the use of asbestos was so effective for the Navy that it was actually mandated to be used.
The most common use of asbestos in U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships was in the boiler rooms, engine rooms, and other areas below deck where insulation and fireproofing were needed.
For this reason, veterans who worked below deck on a Navy ship suffered repeated and prolonged asbestos exposure.
Below-decks staff weren't the only sailors exposed to asbestos, however: asbestos was also used in mess halls, sleeping quarters, and navigation rooms of all ships, as well as in the flooring, pipe coverings, brakes, cements, adhesives, gaskets and valves on every Navy ship.
This means that there was a high probability of every sailor on a ship inhaling or ingesting asbestos at some time.
Asbestos is relatively cheap and very plentiful, so it was used in the construction of buildings on Army bases all over the United States and overseas.
Unfortunately, as these buildings aged, the asbestos used in their construction weakened and often became airborne, leading to the inhalation and swallowing of asbestos fibers by millions of Army veterans and their dependents.
The Navy and the Marines of the United States have historically worked together, especially in times of war.
Many U.S. Marines serve or have served on Navy ships, thus facing the same threats of asbestos exposure as do Navy veterans.
Marines have also been exposed to asbestos that was used in the construction of older base buildings or camps.
From the 1930s to the 1970s, many U.S. Air Force planes were constructed with parts containing asbestos, such as engine, brakes, and other parts that needed to be insulated from the extreme heat of a jet engine.
Pilots, mechanics, and other personnel who worked on or with these planes have all been exposed to asbestos through the inhalation of asbestos dust.
Asbestos was also used in the base buildings and military housing used by Air Force service members and their families.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs now recognizes mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases as service-related medical conditions.
This means that veterans with mesothelioma are able to apply for Veteran Affairs (VA) benefits to pay for their treatment.
The application process for VA benefits is arduous, and some veterans who have mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease you may have a claim.
A veterans' Service Officer can help you with the VA benefits claims process and can guide you through the process of compensation for your military occupational exposure to asbestos.
Contact a Veterans' Service Officer
Because of the long latency period of mesothelioma, many veterans whose tours of duty ended decades ago may just now be facing a mesothelioma diagnosis.
We at the DAV have a deep respect and gratitude for the men and women who have served our country in times of war and in times of peace.
It is our honor as veterans to help veterans pursue justice after asbestos exposure.
If you have been affected by military asbestos exposure, you may be eligible for compensation.
Please contact a Veteran's Service Officer to schedule a FREE consultation.