Asbestos in Army Barracks & Bases

Quick Summary

The U.S. Army relied on asbestos, a durable but cancer-causing substance, to build bases between the 1930s and early 1980s. The Army didn't realize asbestos exposure could cause deadly cancers like mesothelioma until thousands had already been put at risk. Today, those who developed mesothelioma after serving in Army barracks can pursue veterans benefits and financial aid.

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How Was Asbestos Used in Army Barracks & Bases?

Asbestos is a cancer-causing material that was widely used in U.S. Army barracks across the world. Asbestos could cheaply keep Army barracks and bases fireproof, durable, and well-insulated. Yet anyone exposed to asbestos could develop mesothelioma or other deadly diseases later in life.

Army barracks and bases often used asbestos in:

  • Asphalt cement and shingles
  • Boiler rooms
  • Construction materials
  • Drywall
  • Electrical wiring
  • Gaskets
  • Insulation
  • Joint compound
  • Piping
  • Tile

The U.S. Army was largely unaware of the dangers as the makers of asbestos-based products hid the facts. This put thousands of service members at risk of mesothelioma later on in life after their service.

Asbestos Exposure in U.S. Military Veterans Video Thumbnail

Video Summary: VA-accredited attorney Eric Hall breaks down how U.S. veterans risked asbestos exposure while they served. Between the 1930s and early 1980s, all U.S. military branches relied on asbestos-based products. The risks of asbestos were hidden by manufacturers. U.S. Navy veterans were at the greatest risk. VA benefits can help veterans who develop asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma after serving. Call (877) 450-8973 to get started. View Transcript

Military members who served between the 1930s and 1980s were very likely exposed to asbestos, particularly in the Navy because asbestos was used throughout the ships to insulate pipes and insulate their boiler systems. And of course, the Marines were also on ships for extended periods of time when they were going from one place to another. Also, the Air Force used asbestos extensively, particularly in parts for airplanes. The army and the Marine Corps also use asbestos throughout their buildings on base to help insulate various pipes. If the veteran believes they were exposed to asbestos while serving in, the number one thing they can do is put the VA notice that they intend to file for VA benefits. The Mesothelioma Veterans Center can help with that process and we encourage veterans to call and find out how we can help them.

U.S. veterans account for 33% of all mesothelioma cases due to the widespread use of asbestos in the military. Anyone who lived on an Army base before the mid-1980s may have been exposed — especially those who worked around asbestos-based products on a regular basis.

Thankfully, veterans now facing mesothelioma after military service can get benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including financial aid and treatment. Learn about the benefits available to you with our free veterans packet.

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Army Bases That Used Asbestos

Fort Bragg

Built in 1918, Fort Bragg is one of the largest U.S. Army bases still in operation. Unfortunately, Fort Bragg was home to dozens of structures that contained asbestos.

Asbestos was used in barracks, family housing, and even fire stations on Fort Bragg. More than 200,000 people received basic training at the fort between 1966 and 1970 alone. These men and many others could now be at risk of mesothelioma if they were exposed to asbestos on Fort Bragg.

a vintage (black and white) photo of an Army base

While the Army took steps to remove asbestos in the 1980s, not all asbestos-based products were removed from Fort Bragg. This means some structures on Fort Bragg can put those who serve at risk of mesothelioma even today.

Fort Campbell

This Army installation is located on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky. It opened in 1942, around the time the military increased its use of asbestos during World War II.

Fort Campbell was built to accommodate 23,000 men when it opened. Thus, tens of thousands could be at risk of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases if they were exposed on this base.

Fort Campbell used asbestos in:

  • Ceiling and floor tile
  • Cement pipes
  • Felt pipe
  • Insulation
  • Roofing

Some of the asbestos-based structures built on Fort Campbell during World War II were not supposed to be permanent yet remained in place for decades. The Army finally started to demolish some of these buildings in 2021 to keep people safe from asbestos exposure.

Call (877) 450-8973 if you developed mesothelioma from military bases. You may qualify for VA benefits and financial aid.

Fort Hood

Located near Killeen, Texas, this is the Army’s largest active-duty installation. Fort Hood used asbestos-based products like floor tiles in buildings and housing for its military families. It also lined secret tunnels that led to a storage unit for atomic weapons.

Fort Hood was built to train up to 100,000 men at a time during World War II. Thus, hundreds of thousands that were trained at Fort Hood could now be at risk of asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma.

A U.S. veteran who completed his basic training at Fort Hood filed a lawsuit after being diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma decades later.

Many Fort Hood buildings still contain asbestos today despite removal efforts. In 2020, families living on Fort Hood complained that mold and asbestos are still present in older homes on the base. The families filed a lawsuit against the private company that manages Fort Hood’s housing.

Fort Benning

Fort Benning is located in Georgia and was established in 1918. It was home to nearly 100,000 soldiers — and dozens of buildings laced with asbestos — during World War II and beyond.

Asbestos on Fort Benning put Army service members at risk of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. In just one example, a U.S. Army veteran who served at Fort Benning was diagnosed with lung cancer later in life.

This veteran filed a lawsuit against makers of asbestos-based products and received money to pay for medical bills and other expenses.

Sadly, many asbestos-containing buildings remained on Fort Benning up through the 1980s and beyond. Some World War II-era buildings on Fort Benning still had asbestos intact as recently as 2016, but the Army ordered them to be safely demolished.

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Fort Lewis (Joint Base Lewis-McChord)

Located in Washington, Fort Lewis dates back to 1917. Hundreds of thousands served on Fort Lewis over the decades. Over 302,000 soldiers received basic training at Fort Lewis between 1966 and 1972.

Like many older Army bases around the country, Fort Lewis built many structures with asbestos. Everything from Army barracks, chapels, and even libraries used asbestos. Anyone who served on Fort Lewis could be at risk of mesothelioma decades after the fact.

Fort Lewis merged with the McChord airfield (controlled by the U.S. Air Force) in 2010. Over 100 structures still had asbestos on base as of 2019, when demolition began to make room for newer and safer buildings.

Fort Knox

Located near Louisville, Kentucky, Fort Knox heavily relied on asbestos. Over 1 million were trained at Fort Knox between 1940 and 1968. The horrifying truth is that any of these military veterans might be at risk of mesothelioma if they were exposed to asbestos on the fort.

Asbestos was used to insulate many of the structures on Fort Knox — particularly boiler rooms, which contained a lot of asbestos insulation.

Further, Fort Knox’s Armor Center didn’t do enough to control asbestos exposure among mechanics working on vehicle brakes. Repairing Army vehicles could send asbestos dust flying into the air that mechanics breathed in.

A U.S. Army mechanic who served on Fort Knox later died of pleural mesothelioma. Though his family was devastated, they knew they had to get help. Thankfully, the veteran’s family has started to receive financial compensation by working with a law firm.

Compensation and VA benefits are available if you developed mesothelioma after serving on an Army base. File for VA benefits right now.

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List of U.S. Army Barracks & Bases Built With Asbestos

Dozens of Army barracks, camps, and forts across the United States were built with asbestos-containing products. Below, see if a U.S. Army base you served on put you at risk of mesothelioma.

  • Alabama
    • Anniston Army Depot Base
    • Fort McClellan Army Base
    • Fort Rucker
    • Redstone Arsenal Army Base
  • Alaska
    • Fort Greely
    • Fort Richardson Army Base
    • Fort Wainwright
  • Arizona
    • Camp Navajo
    • Fort Huachuca
    • Yuma Proving Ground
  • Arkansas
    • Camp Joseph Robinson
    • Fort Chaffee
    • Pine Bluff Arsenal
  • California
    • Camp Haan
    • Camp Parks Reserve Forces Training Area (PRFTA)
    • Camp Roberts
    • Camp San Luis Obispo
    • Fort Hunter Liggett
    • Fort Irwin
    • Presidio of Monterey
    • Sierra Army Depot
  • Colorado
    • Fort Carson
    • Pueblo Chemical Depot
  • Georgia
    • Camp Frank D. Merrill
    • Fort Benning
    • Fort Gillem
    • Fort Gordon
    • Fort McPherson
    • Fort Stewart
    • Hunter Army Airfield
  • Hawaii
    • Fort Derussy
    • Fort Shafter
    • Pohakuloa Training Area
    • Schofield Barracks
    • Tripler Medical Center
    • Wheeler Army Airfield Base
  • Illinois
    • Camp Price Support Center
    • Rock Island Arsenal
  • Iowa
    • Camp Dodge
    • Fort Des Moines
    • Iowa Army Plant
  • Kansas
    • Fort Leavenworth
    • Fort Riley
    • U.S. Disciplinary Barracks
  • Kentucky
    • Blue Grass Army Depot
    • Fort Campbell
    • Fort Knox
  • Maryland
    • Aberdeen Proving Ground
    • Fort Detrick
    • Fort Meade
  • Massachusetts
    • Fort Devens
    • Soldier Systems Center
  • Michigan
    • Detroit Arsenal
  • Missouri
    • Fort Leonard Wood
  • Nevada
    • Hawthorne Army Depot
  • New Jersey
    • Fort Dix
    • Fort Monmouth
    • Picatinny Arsenal
  • New Mexico
    • Los Alamos Demolition
    • White Sands Missile Range
  • New York
    • Fort Drum
    • Fort Hamilton
    • U.S. Military Academy
    • Watervliet Arsenal
  • North Carolina
    • Camp Mackall
    • Fort Bragg
    • Simmons Army Airfield
  • Oklahoma
    • Fort Sill
    • McAlester Army Ammunition
  • Oregon
    • Umatilla Chemical Depot
  • Pennsylvania
    • Carlisle Barracks
    • Letterkenny Army Depot
    • New Cumberland Army Depot
    • Tobyhanna Army Depot
  • South Carolina
    • Fort Jackson
  • Tennessee
    • Holston Army Plant
    • Milan Army Ammunition
  • Texas
    • Biggs Army Airfield
    • Camp Bowie
    • Camp Bullis
    • Camp Mabry
    • Camp Stanley Storage Activity
    • Camp Swift
    • Corpus Christi Army Depot
    • Fort Bliss
    • Fort Hood
    • Fort Sam Houston
    • Martindale Army Airfield
    • Red River Army Depot
  • Virginia
    • Fort AP Hill
    • Fort Belvoir
    • Fort Eustis
    • Fort Lee
    • Fort Monroe
    • Fort Myer
    • Fort Pickett
    • Radford Army Ammunition
    • Warrenton Training Center
  • Washington
    • Camp Murray
    • Fort Lewis
    • Yakima Training Center
  • Wisconsin
    • Fort McCoy

Asbestos in International U.S. Army Bases

The list above consists of some of the most well-known Army barracks located on U.S. soil that used asbestos.

However, many U.S. Army barracks around the world may have been built using asbestos if they were established prior to the 1980s. Soldiers stationed at these U.S. Army barracks may have also been put at risk of mesothelioma.

Other countries that are home to U.S. Army bases include:

  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kosovo
  • Kuwait
  • South Korea

Who Was Most at Risk of Asbestos in Army Barracks & Bases?

An older veteran salutes an American flag

While anyone who lived or worked on U.S. Army barracks or bases in the mid-20th century may have been exposed to asbestos, some Army personnel were at a very high risk.

Those who worked around asbestos-based products on a regular basis could easily inhale or swallow stray fibers without notice.

People most at risk of asbestos in Army barracks include:

  • Artillery personnel
  • Boilermakers and furnace tenders
  • Carpenters
  • Construction workers
  • Demolition/renovation workers
  • Drywallers
  • Electricians
  • Firefighters
  • Heavy/light equipment mechanics
  • Insulators
  • Maintenance crew members
  • Mechanics
  • Millwrights
  • Painters
  • Pipefitters
  • Plumbers
  • Tank and armored vehicle personnel
  • Weapons technicians
  • Welders and metal workers
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Service members had no idea they were endangering their health by working on asbestos-laced military bases.

“Up to date, no safe level of asbestos exposure has been determined, and it is generally assumed that ‘zero’ exposure is the level most protective of human health. Because of the small size of asbestos fibers, it is possible for the smallest to remain airborne for weeks.”

– Environmental Protection Agency

Secondhand Exposure Among Family Members

U.S. Army barracks and bases aren’t simply a place for military operations. Many families lived together on U.S. Army bases. Family members may have suffered from secondhand asbestos exposure if a service member they loved was exposed.

For example, an Army mechanic covered in brake dust containing asbestos could have exposed family members when they came home.

Get a free veterans packet if you developed mesothelioma and may have been exposed to asbestos on an Army base. You may qualify for financial compensation.

Mesothelioma Veterans GuideGet a FREE Veterans Packet

Get information on:

  • Top Treatment
  • Best Doctors
  • Improving Prognosis

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Help for Army Veterans With Mesothelioma

Veterans never deserved to get sick from simply serving in U.S. Army barracks. Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are devastating, but help is available for veterans.

For example, veterans can get VA benefits after a mesothelioma diagnosis. Veterans with mesothelioma often receive over $3,000 a month in disability compensation if they’re eligible. Veterans may also access health care through the VA and secure benefits for loved ones.

To qualify for VA benefits, veterans must:

  • Have an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma
  • Have not been dishonorably discharged
  • Prove that their disease is connected to their Army service

Veterans with mesothelioma may also file legal claims or asbestos trust fund claims to pursue even more compensation.

Legal claims demand that manufacturers of asbestos-based products pay for the harm they’ve caused. Asbestos trust fund claims allow veterans to access money from bankrupt companies. No legal action is taken against the U.S. Armed Forces.

You can file for VA benefits right now with help from our VA-accredited claims agents and mesothelioma lawyers. Our team can also help you take legal action if you qualify.

Asbestos in Army Barracks & Bases: Common Questions

Why did the U.S. Army use asbestos on bases if it was dangerous?

The U.S. Army (and other military branches) didn’t know asbestos caused mesothelioma and other diseases until the 1980s. Manufacturers of asbestos-based products knew the risks back in the 1930s, but tried to hide the facts to keep profits high.

When the Army did learn that asbestos led to mesothelioma, it took steps to remove asbestos from as many of its bases as possible.

Can asbestos still be found in U.S. Army barracks & bases?

Yes. Even though the Army took major efforts to remove asbestos on its bases, there may still be a small risk of exposure and mesothelioma.

Fort Hood, Fort Bragg, Fort Benning, and Fort Lewis still had asbestos-containing structures like barracks and family housing intact well into the 2010s.

Were other military barracks & bases built with asbestos?

Yes. U.S Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force bases built between the 1930s and 1980s likely used asbestos-containing products.

For example, asbestos could be found in the piping, waterproofing grease applied to motors and ovens at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

Those who were exposed to asbestos on these bases could develop mesothelioma, lung cancer, or other illnesses.

Can I take legal action after being exposed to asbestos in Army barracks?

Yes. You may qualify for legal action if you got sick after being exposed to asbestos on an Army base. Mesothelioma legal claims award $1 million on average.

Legal action won’t be taken against the U.S. Army. Claims are usually filed against the makers of asbestos-based products, which hid the health risks of asbestos.

You can also pursue legal action if you develop another asbestos-related illness like lung cancer or asbestosis.

Our sponsor law firm can help you explore your legal options right now. Call (877) 450-8973 to get started.

How else did the U.S. Army use asbestos?

From the 1930s to the early 1980s, the U.S. Army used asbestos in barracks, vehicles, and weapons systems. It was cheap, fire resistant, and a natural insulator. Most people didn’t realize it also caused mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other diseases.

Further, the Army wasn’t the only military branch to use asbestos. The U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Marine Corps also used asbestos in shipbuilding and the construction of bases for decades.

Veterans Support Team
Eric P.W. Hall (Capt RIANG) PhotoReviewed by:Eric P.W. Hall (Capt RIANG)

VA-Accredited Attorney

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  • Legal Editor

Eric P.W. Hall (Capt RIANG) is an attorney, a former Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, and a legal advisor at the Mesothelioma Veterans Center. Today, Eric continues to serve as a Captain in the Rhode Island Air National Guard where he is Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, upholding his dedication to his country and fellow veterans. Eric considers it his duty to help his veteran family and strives to help them navigate the VA and receive the benefits they so bravely earned.

Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.

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