Veterans and Mesothelioma


Veterans and Mesothelioma

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are currently 25 million living individuals who have served in the United States’ armed forces.  Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of these living veterans were exposed to toxic asbestos-containing materials during military service.

Widely used by every military branch, asbestos was highly regarded for its heat resistance and fireproofing capabilities. In fact, asbestos was so valued that the military even mandated widespread usage before eventually phasing out the material in the 1970s.

Most military divisions utilized the caustic substance mainly for insulation purposes, but more than 300 products containing asbestos were used by the military, primarily by the Navy from the 1930s through the 1970s. Every ship and shipyard built by the Navy before the mid-70s was fitted with numerous asbestos-containing materials.

These materials were extensively used in engine and boiler rooms and other areas below deck for fire safety purposes. Navy personnel who worked below deck were heavily exposed to asbestos, but all sailors are at risk, as the deadly compound was used in navigation rooms, sleeping quarters, and mess halls. Products such as brakes, gaskets, valves, cements, adhesives, and floor and pipe coverings all contained asbestos.


Veterans Mesothelioma PiechartFor more information on products that are known to have contained asbestos, please fill out the form on the right to receive an informative packet. Clearly, virtually no portion of a naval ship was asbestos-free between the ’30s and mid-70s, making Navy veterans and shipyard workers one of the most at-risk groups for developing asbestos-related diseases.

According to a revealing statistic, more than 30 percent of Americans beset with mesothelioma (a rapacious cancer that attacks the internal lining of the lungs, abdomen, and heart) were exposed to asbestos during military service.

Out of the hundreds of occupations exposed to asbestos, veterans account for 30% of all mesothelioma cancer patients.
Due to common military practices, veterans who served between 1940 and 1970 have a great risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses. Additionally, Navy personnel and workers employed in shipyards from the 1930s through the 1970s hold a greater risk of developing a disease caused by asbestos exposure.

Veterans with asbestos-related illnesses find themselves in a unique and troubling situation, as they virtually have no avenue to seek compensation through the current government system. Ailing veterans are prohibited by law to seek compensation from the U.S. government through the court system.

Veterans are allowed to apply for Veteran Affairs (VA) benefits for asbestos-related diseases, and the resources at can assist veterans in applying for benefits. Initially, a veteran must provide proof that their disease is asbestos-related and that exposure occurred during military service. If a veteran cannot prove their asbestos exposure is limited and isolated to their military service, they advised to seek compensation from asbestos manufacturers.vaclaim_insert

Click for  a complete list of U.S. Naval vessels from WWII through Vietnam that used or contained asbestos.

Currently, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs does not presently recognize mesothelioma as a service-connected medical condition.

Thus, even if a veteran has been diagnosed with mesothelioma (of which nearly 100 percent of all cases are caused by asbestos exposure), the VA may refuse to treat them – unless the veteran can provide proof that the cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos while in service.

asbestosDiagnosis of asbestos-related diseases is difficult since many of the symptoms are indicative of other disorders. With symptoms ranging from respiratory problems to chest pain, asbestos-related illnesses are often misdiagnosed. The non-specificity of symptoms leads to mistaken diagnosis and consequently allows the diseases to fester and spread. For example, pleural mesothelioma, the most common form of asbestos cancers, demonstrates symptoms such as a persistent cough, night sweats, and fever. Early warning signs such as these are frequently misdiagnosed as pneumonia or influenza, affording the cancer the opportunity to develop and pervade the body.

Mesothelioma treatment for asbestos-related illnesses varies depending on the condition. Due to the common late diagnosis of these diseases, treatment is often limited to making the patient comfortable, as curing illnesses caused by asbestos is very rare. Thankfully, there are organizational resources for veterans that can offer assistance with the complications associated with asbestos-related illness. offers free assistance with filing your VA claim and can make the process much easier. Our on-staff 24-year Navy veteran offers extensive experience in filing VA claims and can help any veteran coping with mesothelioma to receive benefits from the VA system.

For more information on free assistance, VA benefits, programs, and eligibility, please call 1-800-ASBESTOS or fill out the form on the right of the Mesothelioma Cancer Center web site to receive a comprehensive information packet or just go to the official Mesothelioma Web Site at



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