Throughout much of the 20th century, the U.S. Army and all other military branches were major consumers of asbestos-containing products. Today, veterans account for over 30% of all mesothelioma cases. U.S. Army veterans with mesothelioma may be eligible for health care benefits and financial compensation.
High Risk of Mesothelioma in Army Veterans
Asbestos-containing products were widely used by the United States Army from the 1930s until the late 1970s. In turn, thousands of veterans have developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure during active duty.
When asbestos materials become worn or damaged, asbestos fibers are released into the air and can be breathed in or swallowed by those nearby. If the fibers become lodged in the lining of the lungs or abdomen, they can irritate healthy tissue for decades. This irritation can cause mesothelioma or another illness as late as 20-50 years after exposure.
Army veterans who have developed mesothelioma can file a claim with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for financial and medical benefits. These benefits can help cover the costs of treatment and provide support to veterans and their families navigating a cancer diagnosis.
History of Asbestos Use in the Army
Asbestos is an extremely effective fireproofing agent. All branches of the U.S. Armed Forces used asbestos extensively to insulate and fireproof their buildings, ships, planes, weapons systems, and equipment.
Common asbestos products used in the military include:
- Brake pads
- Cement foundation
- Clutch plates
- Flooring and ceiling tiles
- Roofing materials
Service members operating heavy artillery or weapons systems were often provided with gloves and suits laced with asbestos to prevent burns to their bodies. However, in an effort to protect soldiers and personnel from the dangers of fire, the U.S. Army unintentionally exposed them to a dangerous and toxic substance.
Manufacturers of asbestos-containing products hid the dangers posed by asbestos from all of their customers, including the U.S. Army, until the late 1970s. Once the risks were known, the U.S. Army began removing and replacing asbestos-containing products.
Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma have the option to pursue a legal claim against these manufacturers that knowingly put people at risk.
- VA Disability Claims
- Survivor Benefits
- Finding Veteran Doctors
Army Asbestos Exposure in the 21st Century
Although the Army stopped using asbestos in the 1980s, soldiers who served in the war in Iraq may still have been exposed to asbestos.
Some nations in the Middle East continue to use asbestos in buildings and other infrastructure. Whenever these structures were damaged or demolished, asbestos was likely released into the air and may have been inhaled by nearby soldiers.