Veterans and Asbestos: A Dishonorable Combination

Veterans and Asbestos: A Dishonorable Combination“He gave his life for his country.” That’s a phrase Americans have been using for centuries. From the first simple shots of the Revolutionary War to the more sophisticated warfare of the 21st century, millions of U.S. military members sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom. In many instances, they were killed in battle or perhaps during some military training exercise.

Of course, in contrast to those who died, there are countless others that survived their stint in the military, both during times of war and times of piece. Those noble veterans make us proud! What many Americans don’t know, however, is that some of those vets – who emerged seemingly unscathed – suffered the physical effects of their service in a way one might not suspect. They were poisoned by toxic asbestos.

Among all individuals in the U.S. diagnosed with mesothelioma, veterans are the group with the highest incidence of the disease. As a matter of fact, statistics show that nearly one-third of all diagnosed cases are among those who served in the U.S. military, particularly during the years from the 1940s through the late 1970s, when asbestos use aboard ships and for other military applications was at its highest. Because of mesothelioma’s long latency period, many of those veterans are only now being diagnosed with the disease.


Veterans of the U.S. Navy are the most affected by past exposure to asbestos. The toxic mineral was literally everywhere on America’s military ships of old, and whether a vet was involved in building ships or sailing aboard them, they were likely exposed on a daily basis. That’s why naval veterans account for about half of all military-related cases of mesothelioma.

Asbestos was used not only in the most logical places such as the boiler and engine rooms, but it was even found in places such as sailors’ sleeping quarters and in the mess hall. Exposure was nearly unavoidable. One could find the material in floor and ceiling files, wrapped around pipes and electrical wiring, and in valves and gaskets. When any of those materials became damaged or were worn from age, it was likely that asbestos fibers were released and could have been inhaled.


Though members of the U.S. Army didn’t generally serve aboard ships, they were exposed to the asbestos materials used in a host of government buildings during and after World War II, including barracks and other structures found on bases throughout the country. Because asbestos was cheap and highly effective as a fire deterrent, it was used abundantly from the 40s through the 70s. Some old Army buildings might still contain asbestos so soldiers should always beware of materials that resemble the toxic mineral.


The U.S. Marines often worked closely with the Navy, especially during the war years of the past. Hence, those who served in the Marines may have been similarly exposed to asbestos while onboard the nation’s ships. They may have also encountered asbestos-containing materials in buildings on their base.

Air Force

Any member of the Air Force who serviced or repaired the nation’s fleet of flying machines may have been exposed to asbestos, often used as insulation or found in friction products such as brakes and clutches. In addition, as with the other branches of the military, they may have been exposed while working or dwelling in buildings on their base, which may have been constructed using asbestos-containing items such as insulation, cement, tiles, shingles, or a host of other construction products.


If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos during military service and have developed mesothelioma, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact an experienced asbestos attorney today to learn about your options.