United States veterans have sacrificed a great deal so that the citizens of our country could continue to have the quality of life we often take for granted. The collective heroism, bravery, risk and sacrifice of this group are extraordinary. Sadly, it is this group that are also most affected by mesothelioma. That’s because for many years, the U.S. Military used asbestos widely in many applications. Likely as a result of this high level of exposure, veterans make up roughly 30% of all mesothelioma patients.
From the 1930′s to the 1970′s, the U. S. Military used over 300 products containing asbestos, some of them mandated for use because of their fire-retardant properties. In the Air Force, these mesothelioma-linked materials were used with brakes, heat shields, wiring and insulation. In the Army, asbestos was used in buildings as well as parts of vehicles. In the Coast Guard, many areas of the ship including the boiler room and engine were coated with asbestos insulation to prevent fire. Asbestos was also used in ropes. Marines were exposed to asbestos in ships and on land, as asbestos was used widely in both ship building and virtually every military installation. In some cases, enlisted men also participated in asbestos disposal, resulting in further exposure to the toxic material.
In particular, former Naval veterans and Naval shipyard workers have one of the highest risks of developing asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma. The material was used with boilers, gaskets, valves, and floor and pipe coverings in the engine and boiler rooms, navigation rooms, sleep quarters, and mess halls. In fact, there were practically no areas of Naval ships that were free of asbestos.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does consider applications for benefits when a veteran has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and can prove that the asbestos exposure happened during their service. Even then the VA may not approve the claim. It is extremely helpful to get advice before submitting an application for benefits to the VA. If you or someone you know is a veteran diagnosed with mesothelioma, we encourage you to fill out our online form.