For over a century, Army veterans have been exposed to a cancer-causing mineral called asbestos. For decades, the United States Army and other military branches used asbestos in everything from buildings, vehicles, ships, and aircraft.
Unbeknownst to the United States military until the late 1970s, asbestos was harming their servicepeople. Originally, asbestos was desired for its fire-resistant, chemical-resistant, and waterproof properties. Its widespread use eventually led to thousands of veterans coming forward with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses. Before the 1970s, asbestos manufacturers kept the harms of it a secret and touted its incredible potential. So the Army and other branches of the military stocked up and used it in nearly every new build.
To this day, Army veterans are coming forward to claim disability compensation from the VA due to mesothelioma from asbestos exposure. Here's a look at asbestos exposure and mesothelioma in United States Army veterans.
Asbestos Use in the Army: Who is at Risk?
There is a tremendous number of individuals at risk of mesothelioma or other asbestos related illnesses due to the widespread use of the material. Those at risk include mechanics, soldiers who lived in asbestos-laden US housing prior to 1998, and those who served overseas and stayed in regions where asbestos abatement had not yet occurred. Here's a look at some of the risk factors.
Asbestos was used in Army aircraft, vehicles, bases, and barracks. Asbestos products were handy in mechanical applications, for fireproofing purposes, and as insulation. For Army vehicles and aircraft, asbestos was heavily used in engine parts, gaskets, valves, clutch facings, undercoating, transmission parts, and brakes. Any mechanics or repairpeople who worked on these were at risk of asbestos exposure.
In 1998, the United States Army adopted a management program to abate and reduce asbestos where soldiers worked and lived. While that was good news, that also meant that soldiers lived and worked in asbestos-filled buildings for over 70 years. Asbestos had been used in many building materials, including insulation, cement, drywall, ceiling tiles, and flooring.
The highest risk of asbestos exposure lay with all mechanics, repair workers, and construction workers. If they disturbed asbestos, it could lead to the inhalation of fibers that would then become lodged in their lungs. This disturbance could happen with any sort of handling of asbestos materials. Army jobs that are considered to have the highest level of risk include:
- Vehicle maintenance
While abatement efforts have been made in the United States, they haven't been on bases overseas. In a May 2020 U.S. Defense Department Report, over 38,000 military housing units in the United States and abroad had been identified as still containing asbestos and lead. Most of these were overseas. Many Army servicepeople in Afghanistan and Iraq, in particular, have been exposed to asbestos in more recent years. Many of the destroyed buildings in those areas kick up asbestos and debris and it is carried for miles by the wind.
Mesothelioma in Army Veterans
Veterans account for a significant number of mesothelioma cases. Because of the long latency period of the disease, there will continue to be more cases reported. Army veterans who were exposed to asbestos in any of the instances mentioned above could be at risk of developing mesothelioma. Mesothelioma can develop 20-50 years after exposure, so veterans are advised to be aware of the signs and symptoms.
If you recently served overseas and think you may have been exposed to asbestos, make sure to consistently check in at the VA for tests. The sooner you catch an asbestos-related illness, the better your diagnosis could be.
Compensation and Resources Available for Army Veterans
Army veterans with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illness that can be traced to their time in the service can receive benefits through the VA. Mesothelioma cases receive 100% disability and receive full medical care through the VA. Other asbestos-related cases can depend on the severity and type of illness. The VA can help provide veterans with resources, get them medical care, and receive certain amounts of compensation. Having a knowledgeable asbestos lawyer on hand to help you prove your asbestos exposure was service-related is important. Otherwise, you risk losing that coverage and the benefits the VA has to offer.
The United States Army is protected from lawsuits relating to asbestos exposure, but the companies who sold them asbestos products are not. For decades, we have helped asbestos victims receive compensation through settlements, trials, and asbestos funds throughout Michigan. In fact, we've created an entire database dedicated to the identification of asbestos mines, manufacturers, and distributors. We have also compiled decades of information relating to job sites and bases that contained asbestos throughout Michigan. We take asbestos cases seriously.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of asbestos and developed an asbestos-related illness as a result of your service in the United States military, we want to help you. With our help, you could be compensated for all of the medical bills, treatments, lost wages, and more. Fill out our free case evaluation below to get started.