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Veterans of the United States military are entitled to the thanks of the nation, and are often recognized for their service and courage. These are well-respected, hardworking Americans who made great sacrifices to serve the country through the military. Unfortunately, many of these brave men and women spend their final days battling the illnesses triggered by years of exposure to asbestos, including mesothelioma.

Approximately thirty percent of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma are veterans who have served in the U.S. military. If you are a veteran diagnosed with mesothelioma, call us at 1-800-692-8608 and find out whether you are eligible to receive compensation from the $30 Billion Trust Funds. There is a time limit so contact us as soon as possible.

Veterans Exposed to Asbestos in all Branches of the Military

The reason that veterans make up such a large portion of the mesothelioma patient population is that in previous years, the military relied upon asbestos for its heat-resistant and fireproof characteristics.  The Navy, the Army, the Air Force, Marines and the Coast Guard all utilized asbestos in nearly every form of transportation, in all electrical wiring, in housing and insulation and a number of other applications.

Asbestos was so heavily used in all military branches from the early 1900s all the way through the middle of the 1970s. Those who served during the years that asbestos was in use were surrounded by the toxic substance on a constant basis, and this is why the mesothelioma rate is so high among this population. Making matters worse, many servicemen left the military but continued working in the same occupations as civilians, exposing them to asbestos even further.

The use of asbestos was discontinued by the military in the mid-1970s, after it became widely known that the popular material was linked to a variety of health risks. Because mesothelioma has such a long latency period, many of the veterans who served during the Korean War and the Vietnam War are only just beginning to show symptoms of the disease.

Though asbestos use was completely curtailed, it took the military a long time to eliminate all asbestos present in their facilities and equipment, so many who served in recent years may still face the risk of a mesothelioma diagnosis as a result of exposure. Certain types of military work put veterans at the greatest risk for asbestos exposure:

  • Working with insulation
  • Demolition
  • Working in shipyards and on ships
  • Mining
  • Pipefitting
  • Roofing and flooring installation
  • Vehicle repair and maintenance
  • Building military equipment

Secondary and Continued Exposure to Asbestos

One of the many great tragedies of the extensive asbestos exposure that military members and veterans experienced is that their families were also put at risk. Anyone who lives in a home with someone who is daily exposed to asbestos on the job is also exposed.

This is called secondary exposure, and many family members of veterans have suffered because of the asbestos fibers that came home with them after a day on the job. The fibers cling to clothing and enter the air in the home where anyone can inhale them and suffer the same consequences as the person experiencing primary exposure. This has especially been a risk for military members stationed on bases with their families in on-base housing.

Another issue with asbestos in the military is that many retired veterans continued to work in the same field as they did while in active service. This means that for many, the exposure to asbestos continued in their second careers. Military members that worked in plumbing, as mechanics, in construction, and in other fields that often included working around asbestos continued to be exposed for years after retiring to civilian life.

The development of mesothelioma is usually not seen in workers until decades after exposure to asbestos began. This means that these workers were often unaware at the time they left the military that they were at risk for mesothelioma and that their risk continued in civilian jobs. By the time it came to light, it was too late for many.


Ship and Shipyard Asbestos Exposure

navy shipyard

One of the most asbestos-rich environments in the U.S. military was found in the Navy, where nearly every part of each ship had some kind of asbestos-containing material. Not only were the engine and boiler rooms insulated with the material, but so were the areas between decks, in the navigation rooms, and even in sleeping quarters and mess areas. Veterans tell stories of asbestos dust raining down on them – even the paint on the walls contained asbestos.

Navy veterans have the highest rates of asbestos-related illnesses of all military veterans because they experienced more exposure generally. The highest-risk areas of battleships include the pump rooms, engine rooms, and boiler rooms. Navy men and women who worked in these areas have experienced the most exposure to asbestos. This is because of the content of asbestos in these parts of the ships, but also because ventilation in the below decks areas was poor and workers breathed in a lot of asbestos fibers as a result.

high-risk-area navy asbestos

Asbestos-Related Diseases

The years of exposure to asbestos that so many military men and women endured had led to a number of health conditions. One of these is mesothelioma, the aggressive type of cancer that attacks the linings of the lungs and that is nearly always fatal. It takes decades to develop and by the time it is diagnosed, most people have no option to cure the disease. Treatment options are usually given to extend life a little bit longer and to provide greater comfort.

Mesothelioma is a terrible disease, but it is not the only one that military veterans are at risk for. These men and women who worked around asbestos are also at risk for developing asbestosis, a chronic lung condition, as well as lung cancer, larynx and pharynx cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, urogenital cancers, and bronchus cancers.

Some of these illnesses can be cured, many can only be treated. For instance, asbestosis is a chronic lung condition that causes scarring in the lungs, chest pain, coughing, and shortness of breath. The damage that has been done to the lungs, however, cannot be reversed or fixed. Veterans living with asbestosis can be treated for the symptoms, but will live with the condition forever.

Veterans and Mesothelioma

Of all the conditions that can be caused by years of asbestos exposure, mesothelioma is the most dreaded and veterans suffer with it more than most groups of people. Up to 30 percent of mesothelioma cases diagnosed are in military veterans. This is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs in most instances and it is very aggressive.

Because mesothelioma is so aggressive and because it takes decades to develop and show signs, most veterans getting this diagnosis are also getting a death sentence. Most cases are already advanced to later stages at the time of diagnosis and treatment is used largely to extend a patient’s life and to make him or her more comfortable. Curing mesothelioma is extremely rare.

Veterans’ Benefits for Mesothelioma

asbestos mesothelioma awareness

There are a number of benefits available to veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. Mesothelioma has been recognized by the VA as a service-connected condition, and as such those who have been impacted are entitled to VA Health Care, Disability Compensation, and Dependency & Indemnity Compensation.

The availability of VA Health Care is determined by a number of factors, specifically on the veteran’s income level and whether the condition is service-related. In some cases copays may be required for treatment.  If mesothelioma disability status is determined, a veteran is able to be treated at any VA facility, some of which are staffed by noted mesothelioma specialists.

Among these renowned physicians serving veterans are Abraham Lebenthal, M.D. of the Boston VA Healthcare System and Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and Robert Cameron, M.D. of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and the UCLA Medical Center.


Disability Compensation:

This monthly benefit is provided by the V.A. to those who have been determined to have a disability. Though the amount of compensation offered in disability compensation varies based upon diagnosis and degree of disability, mesothelioma has been determined to be 100% disabling, which means that a mesothelioma diagnosis generally entitled the veteran to the maximum monthly benefit.

Additional factors such as number of dependents may also impact the benefits available. The maximum monthly benefit to which veterans with mesothelioma are entitled begin at nearly $3,000 and can be increased if there are dependents in the family, such as minor children.

Clinical Trials for Veterans

mesothelioma specialistIn addition to receiving medical treatment, veterans may apply to participate in a variety of clinical trials that are funded by drug companies, mesothelioma treatment centers and the NIH (among others), all of which study experimental treatments to evaluate safety and effectiveness.

Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608 for more information about the latest clinical trials and eligibility requirements. Space is very limited so contact us as soon as possible.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC):

This monthly benefit is provided to the surviving spouse of veterans who have died from a service-connected condition. If a military veteran dies because of an illness caused by asbestos, the surviving spouse is entitled to this benefit. Benefits for DIC are $1,195 per month and can be provided for spouses of veterans who were already receiving disability benefits, but also for those who were not. In the latter instance the surviving spouse may need to provide evidence of asbestos exposure, the illness, and how that contributed to the death.

VA Health Care

Many military members struggling with asbestos-related illnesses are eligible for health care services through the VA. Every case is different and there are several factors used to determine eligibility. These include income level. The VA uses a couple of different scales to adjust incomes and to decide if a veteran can receive health care with or without a copay.

SMC is available for certain veterans who qualify and is a benefit generally reserved for those that are disabled to the extent that they require specialized care. This may include someone who is bedridden or unable to leave the house without assistance. The typical amounts of SMC awarded to veterans disabled because of asbestos exposure are between $250 and $650 per month.

Clinical Trials for Veterans

In addition to receiving medical treatment, veterans may apply to participate in a variety of clinical trials that are funded by drug companies, mesothelioma treatment centers and the NIH (among others), all of which study experimental treatments to evaluate safety and effectiveness.

Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608 for more information about the latest clinical trials and eligibility requirements. Space is very limited so contact us as soon as possible.

Veterans Facilities Specializing in Mesothelioma Treatment

Veterans facing a mesothelioma diagnosis have a long battle ahead. Treatments are being developed and tested all the time through clinical trials. Although it is nearly impossible to cure this disease, some people do go into remission and others see a significant increase in life expectancy thanks to the best and most aggressive treatments.

Some of the most advanced mesothelioma treatments being offered now through the VA are at facilities in Boston and Los Angeles. For those veterans that can travel to either of these locations, the level or service and health care offered is top notch. The VA does not always alert veterans to these options, which is why it is so important that individuals are aware of the health care available and are able to make the best choices about their care.

Raising Awareness Among Veterans

With asbestos exposure being of grave concern for the population that has served in the American military, it is important that veterans from every branch are educated about their risk and informed about the various symptoms that they need to be on the lookout for. Because mesothelioma’s early symptoms so closely resemble other, more benign illnesses, they are often ignored, allowing the illness to progress further and become more and more difficult to treat.

The symptoms that veterans should be on the lookout for include fatigue, a persistent cough, weight loss, fever and night sweats. Many veterans, and even their physicians, may mistake these symptoms for the flu, a virus, or even bronchitis or pneumonia. It is essential that veterans make their physicians aware of their history of asbestos exposure in order to give themselves the best chance for early diagnosis.

If you've been diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer, contact us at 1-800-692-8608 to find out if you are eligible to receive compensation. You can also fill out this form to receive FREE information.

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