U.S. military veterans make up about 30 percent of all diagnosed mesothelioma cases every year. The military has established benefits and services specifically for military asbestos victims.
Veterans who have been injured by asbestos–diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related injury—may qualify for disability compensation, financial benefits and other services through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The benefits and services come with eligibility requirements and restrictions.
Asbestos was widely used in the United States throughout all branches of the military, mostly from 1935 through 1975. Asbestos manufacturers are responsible for exposing veterans to the dangerous substance since these companies continued to make asbestos-containing products despite the known dangers. Veterans who were exposed decades ago are being diagnosed today.
U.S. Navy veterans are most at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease because asbestos was used in large quantities in shipyards and aboard naval vessels. Ships were constructed with asbestos in every crevice because the fibrous mineral contains heat-, chemical- and fire-resistant properties.
Even today, asbestos remains a threat in some military applications. Asbestos can be found on older naval ships and military installations despite remediation efforts. The material is still being used overseas so current members of the military remain at risk.
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The VA has acknowledged that veterans may have been exposed to “chemical, physical, and environmental hazards during military service.” The following military jobs are considered high risk for asbestos exposure.
The Navy started using asbestos in 1938 and later mandated it be installed on every ship in the fleet. The following naval professions are particularly vulnerable to mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases:
In performing land-based operations, Army service members were exposed to asbestos in installations around the world. Even today, the threat of exposure remains. Countries in the Middle East, including Iraq, continue to use asbestos in construction projects. In addition, several U.S.-based Army installations, including Fort Jackson in South Carolina and Fort Knox in Kentucky, still contain asbestos. The following are Army occupations that are susceptible to asbestos exposure:
With the main goal of performing aviation missions, the Air Force maintains heavy bombers, fighter jets and other supporting aircrafts. Most Air Force bases used asbestos in the concrete landing strips, buildings and aircrafts, including the brakes and engines. At-risk Air Force occupations include the following:
During the prime asbestos-use years, Marines often traveled overseas aboard U.S. Navy vessels. Because these vessels had poor ventilation and excessive amounts of asbestos, anyone aboard was at risk for exposure. Marines are also at risk in sleeping quarters, common rooms, mess halls and barracks.
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