Mesothelioma in the Coast Guard

Quick Summary

Veterans who served in the U.S. Coast Guard from the 1930s to the early 1980s are at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma. Due to the heavy use of asbestos on military ships, many service members were routinely exposed to the deadly material. Financial and health care benefits are available to eligible Coast Guard veterans with mesothelioma.

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Mesothelioma and Coast Guard Veterans

black and white photo of coast guard ship
Photo By: USCG

Men and women who served in the U.S. Coast Guard at any time between World War II and the early 1980s may be at risk of developing mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, or another asbestos-related disease.

It takes 10-50 years for mesothelioma to develop after initial asbestos exposure, meaning its first symptoms usually appear well after the veteran served in the military.

If you served in the Coast Guard and were diagnosed with mesothelioma, you can pursue financial and medical benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). You may also qualify for legal compensation to help pay for treatment and provide support for your family.

Get a Free Veterans Packet to learn more about accessing VA benefits.

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Resources for Mesothelioma and Coast Guard Veterans

VA Financial Benefits

The VA offers benefits designed to relieve the financial burden of living with mesothelioma for victims and their loved ones. VA officers and accredited lawyers can help you file your VA claim.

Some eligibility requirements for VA benefits include:

  • Being an honorably discharged veteran
  • Providing a detailed report of your asbestos exposure
  • Showing that over 50% of the exposure occurred during military service

Mesothelioma has a 100% disability rating according to the VA. This means that former Coast Guard service members are usually eligible for the maximum payout for disability compensation.

Other VA benefits may be available based on income, number of dependents, or caregiver needs.

VA Health Care Benefits

The VA health care system has some of the best mesothelioma surgeons in the world. Many mesothelioma Coast Guard veterans can get free treatment for this cancer, from these specialists.

Private Compensation

Manufacturers made and sold asbestos-containing products to the U.S. Coast Guard, even though they knew of the deadly risks. These companies could be held financially responsible if you developed an asbestos-related disease after being exposed to their products.

You may be eligible to receive compensation from an asbestos trust fund or a mesothelioma lawsuit. Both legal options may allow you and your family to access the financial help and justice you deserve.

Asbestos lawsuits are not filed against the U.S. Coast Guard. Instead, they are filed against the manufacturers responsible for your cancer.

Many manufacturers of asbestos-based products filed for bankruptcy to avoid being sued. However, they were forced to set up asbestos trust funds to help pay victims for the harm they caused. These funds have over $30 billion, and you may qualify to receive a portion of this money.

Learn more about accessing legal compensation now by speaking with a mesothelioma attorney.

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U.S. Coast Guard Ships and Asbestos

Because asbestos is so effective at fireproofing, it was widely used to protect U.S. Coast Guard ships from fires while at sea. However, any time Coast Guardsmen installed, repaired, or removed ship components, they faced potential asbestos exposure.

Did you know?

Asbestos was used to line and insulate nearly all Coast Guard vessels produced until after the Vietnam War.

Because military ships typically had poor ventilation, asbestos fibers that were disturbed and became airborne could circulate for hours in small, enclosed areas, such as boiler rooms and engine rooms. Anyone who entered these spaces may have come into contact with asbestos.

As time went on, the asbestos-containing products in Coast Guard ships deteriorated, releasing asbestos fibers into the air. This was common when ships from World War II were reused in later missions.

Mesothelioma and Coast Guard Veterans Video Thumbnail

Video Summary: U.S. Coast Guard veterans could be in danger of mesothelioma due to widespread military asbestos use. Learn about the risks and how to get help by calling (877) 450-8973.

Those who served in the U.S. Coast Guard prior to the early 1980s could have been exposed to asbestos. Asbestos is a material that was used to make military bases and ships stronger. Sadly, this substance carried a dangerous risk.

As Coast Guard members carried out their duties, they could have breathed in or swallowed asbestos fibers.

This puts them at risk of deadly asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma, later in life. Asbestos fibers get trapped in the body, eventually causing cancer tumors to form.

At the Mesothelioma Veterans Center, we recognize the sacrifice made by Coast Guard veterans and anyone else who served their country.

To that end, we can help Coast Guard veterans get benefits, medical aid, and compensation after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Financial and health care benefits are available to Coast Guard veterans with mesothelioma through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Some of the best mesothelioma in the doctors work with the VA to treat veterans.

Coast Guard veterans can also file private claims against the makers of asbestos-containing products to receive additional compensation. Filing a private claim won’t prevent you from getting VA benefits.

The Mesothelioma Veterans Center is committed to helping U.S. Coast Guard veterans. We understand the unique challenges they face and work tirelessly to ensure they receive the support they deserve.

Contact us now to see how we can help you and your family.

List of Coast Guard Cutters With Asbestos

U.S. Coast Guard cutters (ships) constructed before 1991 are known to have had asbestos materials aboard. In turn, service members assigned to Coast Guard cutters made before this time may be at risk of developing mesothelioma.

Coast Guard cutters that used asbestos included: 

  • USCGC Absecon (WHEC-374)
  • USCGC Boutwell (WHEC-719)
  • USCGC Campbell (WMEC-909)
  • USCGC Dallas (WHEC-716)
  • USCGC Escape (WMEC-6)
  • USCGC Gallatin (WHEC-721)

Coast guard cutters weren't the only military vessels to use asbestos. Many other Navy ships used asbestos as an insulator and fireproofing agent.

History of Asbestos Use in the Coast Guard

Because asbestos is so versatile, it was used in almost all Coast Guard ships, weapons systems, and infrastructure. In fact, each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces used asbestos extensively.

On Coast Guard bases and ships, asbestos was commonly found in:

  • Boiler rooms
  • Cables
  • Ceiling and floor tiles
  • Electrical wiring
  • Engine rooms
  • Gaskets
  • Insulation
  • Mess halls
  • Piping
  • Valves

For much of the 20th century, the military had no reason to suspect that asbestos was dangerous. Only the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew of these dangers, but they hid the truth until the late 1970s.

The Coast Guard has since removed almost all of the asbestos from its ships and other assets — but not before thousands of service members were already exposed.

Get a Free Veterans Packet if you served in the U.S. Coast Guard and later developed an asbestos-related disease. Benefits and compensation may be available.

Coast Guard Jobs With High Asbestos Exposure Risk

Coast Guardsmen who worked directly with asbestos on a consistent basis have the highest rates of asbestos exposure and, in turn, mesothelioma.

Below, learn more about dangerous jobs in the Coast Guard.

Shipyard Workers

Coast Guard veterans with the highest risk of asbestos exposure typically worked in shipyards. These workers were constantly exposed to asbestos as they built, overhauled, and tore down ships.

Because asbestos was used in so many different areas of the ships, it was nearly impossible for any shipyard worker to avoid exposure. Mechanics who installed and repaired ship components were also at risk.

coast guard cutter in a shipyard
Photo By: USCG

Construction and Demolition Workers

Coast Guardsmen used dozens of asbestos-containing products during the construction, renovation, or demolition of buildings. Common asbestos products found in Coast Guard buildings were piping, floor or ceiling tiles, and insulation.

“Exceptional exposures [to asbestos] may have occurred during certain maintenance procedures (e.g. tearing up entire floor surfaces of asbestos-containing floor tiles and torching or sanding surfaces painted with lead-containing paint) without the use of personal protective equipment.”

– United States Coast Guard official website

When asbestos-containing products are disturbed, toxic particles are released into the air and can cling to hair and clothing. Workers and those nearby can inhale or ingest the asbestos fibers unknowingly, putting them at risk of deadly illnesses down the road.

Secondhand Asbestos Exposure Risks in the Coast Guard

Because U.S. Coast Guard bases and ships relied heavily on asbestos-containing materials, families who lived with service members may have been put at risk through secondhand exposure.

For example, when asbestos fibers clung to service members’ uniforms or hair, they could be inhaled by family members through physical contact or as the uniforms were washed.

Get a Free Veterans Packet to learn more about secondhand exposure.

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Get information on:

  • Top Treatments
  • Best Doctors
  • Improving Prognosis

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Get Help Filing Your Mesothelioma VA Claim

Filing for Coast Guard mesothelioma VA benefits or legal compensation without help can be difficult because you may not remember how, when, or where you were exposed to asbestos.

Thankfully, our VA-accredited claims agents are available to help make the process easier. We have decades of experience in helping veterans get their VA benefits as quickly as possible. Our team can also help you and your family get private benefits too.

File a Coast Guard VA benefits claim now.

FAQs About Mesothelioma & Coast Guard Veterans

Were Coast Guardsmen exposed to asbestos?

Possibly, yes. Asbestos was widely used by the U.S. Coast Guard up through 1991. Asbestos-containing products were found throughout ships, shipyards, and bases. Thus, Coast Guard personnel could have been exposed to asbestos.

Among those at a very high risk of exposure were shipyard workers and anyone else who worked with or around asbestos on a daily basis. Asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma later in life.

Are Coast Guard veterans with mesothelioma eligible for VA benefits?

Yes. Coast Guard veterans with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases may qualify for financial and medical VA benefits. These benefits can make life much easier for veterans fighting cancer.

Coast Guard veterans might also qualify for private benefits by filing claims against manufacturers of asbestos-containing products.

For help applying for mesothelioma VA benefits, call (877) 450-8973 now.

How often will Coast Guard veterans get mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma affects roughly 1,000 military veterans per year, and not everyone exposed to asbestos will develop mesothelioma.

That said, Coast Guard veterans are at a high risk of developing mesothelioma if they worked with or around asbestos frequently during their service. They could also go on to develop other asbestos-related diseases, like asbestosis and lung cancer.

Veterans Support Team
Eric P.W. Hall (Major USAFR) PhotoReviewed by:Eric P.W. Hall (Major USAFR)

VA-Accredited Attorney

  • Fact-Checked
  • Legal Editor

Eric P.W. Hall (Major USAFR) 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 Major in the United States Air Force Reserve (USAFR), 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 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.