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Mesothelioma and Air Force Veterans

Many U.S. Air Force veterans faced asbestos exposure during their service. Today, these veterans may be at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma. Air Force veterans with mesothelioma can seek financial benefits and low-cost health care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). We help veterans get or increase their VA benefits — learn more below.

Legally reviewed by: Brian J. Cooke

Last updated:

Asbestos Exposure in U.S. Air Force Veterans

The U.S. Air Force used asbestos in many ways between the 1930s and early 1980s. Before the risks were known, asbestos was seen as an ideal material for protecting Air Force planes and bases.

The exterior of a U.S. Air Force

Unfortunately, asbestos exposure can also lead to deadly diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Makers of asbestos-based products sold goods to the U.S. Air Force and other branches of the military without revealing the dangers for decades. By the time the public learned of the risks, millions of Air Force veterans had already been exposed.

Thankfully, veterans with mesothelioma can file for VA benefits, including monthly compensation and low-cost or free medical treatments. Private forms of compensation are also available as well.

Mesothelioma Hope can help Air Force veterans access the benefits they need. Download our Free Veterans Compensation Guide to learn more.

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How Were Air Force Veterans Exposed to Asbestos?

Planes

Asbestos-containing products went into virtually every U.S. military plane built from the late 1930s until the early 1980s.

U.S. Air Force planes that used asbestos include:

  • B-25 Liberator
  • B-29 Superfortress
  • B-36 Peacemaker
  • B-47 Stratojet
  • B-52 Stratofortress
  • B-58 Hustler
  • F-104 Starfighter
  • KC-135 Stratotanker
  • SR-71 Blackbird
  • U-2 Spyplane

Asbestos was non-flammable, making it ideal for aircraft engine heat shields, cockpit protection, fuel tank insulation, and fireproofing materials. It also was non-corrosive, non-conductive, strong, lightweight, and cheap to purchase.

Air Force planes used asbestos-based products such as:

  • Brake pads and other friction devices
  • Cabin and cargo bay insulation
  • Electrical wiring and fuel line protection
  • Engine heat shields and firewalls
  • Gaskets and valves
  • Sealants, adhesives, and paint

The Air Force took great steps to remove asbestos-based products from its planes once it understood the dangers. Many renovations occurred during the military’s asbestos abatement program in the 1980s.

Asbestos on Air Force Bases and Barracks

Nearly 90 U.S. Air Force bases are known to have contained asbestos. Everything from ground facilities and hangars to family housing was heavily built using asbestos on Air Force bases.

U.S. Air Force bases that used asbestos included:

  • Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland
  • Beale Air Force Base, California
  • Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, Florida
  • Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois
  • Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina
  • Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona
  • Duluth Air National Guard Base, Minnesota
  • Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska
  • Greenville Air Force Base, Mississippi
  • Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii
  • Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado
  • Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama
  • Plattsburgh Air Force Base, New York
  • Robins Air Force Base, Georgia
  • Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma
  • Topsham Air Force Base, Maine
  • Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts
  • Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio

Insulation, tiling, shingles, and bricks were just a few of many products with asbestos found on Air Force bases. These materials were used throughout military bases, putting both service members and their loved ones at risk of exposure to the dangerous mineral.

Did You Know?

The U.S. Air Force Academy’s Cadet Chapel in Colorado closed for renovations in 2019, and 32 miles of asbestos insulation have been removed from the structure as of 2024.

Learn more about the risks of asbestos and how to access top mesothelioma treatments in our Free Mesothelioma Guide. Order now and the guide will be shipped to your door overnight.

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VA Benefits for Air Force Veterans

Air Force veterans who served their country and developed mesothelioma as a result can apply for veterans benefits.

VA benefits may help Air Force veterans with mesothelioma:

  • Get medical treatment
  • Receive money to cover medical bills and other expenses
  • Take care of their families

To be eligible for mesothelioma VA benefits, veterans must not have been dishonorably discharged and their disability must be tied back to their military service. It must also be shown that the veteran was exposed to asbestos while they served.

Veterans with mesothelioma commonly file post-service VA benefit claims as the disease typically develops decades after exposure and military service.

Types of VA Benefits for Air Force Veterans

There are several types of VA benefits that can help Air Force veterans with mesothelioma.

Key VA benefits include:

  • Disability compensation: Veterans with mesothelioma are eligible for VA disability benefits — a tax-free monthly amount of compensation. Married U.S. Air Force veterans who are 100% disabled can receive $3,946.25 per month for mesothelioma for 2024. However, each case is different, and some veterans may receive more or less than this based on how many dependents they have.
  • Special Monthly Compensation (SMC): Veterans with special health needs may receive additional monthly compensation. This is at a higher, tax-free rate to cover costs like home care and special transportation. SMC compensation varies on a case-by-case basis.
  • VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC): Spouses and dependent children of veterans who passed away from mesothelioma are also eligible to receive tax-free monthly compensation through VA DIC benefits.
  • VA health care: Air Force veterans can receive mesothelioma treatments and other health care services through the VA health care system. Some of the world’s top mesothelioma specialists work with the VA to help U.S. veterans.
  • Other VA benefits: Veterans and their families may qualify for extra benefits such as pensions, coverage of funeral expenses, and much more.

Our team can help you file for mesothelioma VA benefits or increase your VA payouts. Learn how by downloading our Free Veterans Compensation Guide.

Mesothelioma veteran support guide
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  • Access $30+ billion in trust funds
  • File a VA claim
  • Receive legal compensation

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Filing for Air Force VA Benefits

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that can spread rapidly, so Air Force veterans should apply as soon as they have been diagnosed with mesothelioma to get the help they need.

Air Force veterans may apply for benefits:

  • By mail: Air Force veterans can mail their applications to the VA.
  • In person: Veterans may bring their applications to a VA regional office near them.
  • Online: Air Force veterans can file their claims online at the VA’s official website.

To get help applying for VA benefits, contact Mesothelioma Hope now. Our team of U.S. veterans, Patient Advocates, and VA-accredited attorneys can help you pursue VA benefits. Call (866) 608-8933 to start the process.

More Help for Air Force Veterans With Mesothelioma

Outside of filing for VA benefits, U.S. Air Force veterans with mesothelioma can receive compensation through private claims.

Our legal partners have secured millions of dollars for other Air Force veterans through private claims.

Recent payouts for Air Force veterans with mesothelioma include:

  • $4.14 million
  • $3.5 million
  • $2.9 million

Pursuing a private claim with the help of a mesothelioma lawyer won’t impact your ability to receive VA benefits. Further, private claims are filed against product manufacturers, not the U.S. Air Force or the government.

The Mesothelioma Hope team can help you and your family retrieve VA benefits and get compensation from private claims. Learn more by downloading your Free Veterans Compensation Guide.

Mesothelioma and Air Force Veterans FAQs

How were U.S. Air Force veterans exposed to asbestos?

The Air Force and asbestos exposure were linked for decades. U.S. Air Force veterans were exposed to asbestos-containing products that were used to make bases, buildings, and planes.

Product manufacturers hid the dangers of asbestos from Air Force veterans and the general public for decades.

When the dangers became known in the early 1980s, steps were taken to remove asbestos from Air Force bases and planes.

Which U.S. Air Force veterans are at risk of mesothelioma?

Any U.S. Air Force veteran that served before the mid-1980s is at risk of mesothelioma.

That said, U.S. Air Force mechanics had the greatest risk of asbestos exposure, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

These aircraft mechanics had to repair, remove, and install airplane parts that contained asbestos on a regular basis, putting them at a high risk of mesothelioma.

Any other Air Force occupation where service members regularly had to use asbestos could put veterans at a big risk of mesothelioma later in life.

Are family members of U.S. Air Force veterans at risk of mesothelioma?

Possibly, yes. Family members of Air Force veterans exposed to asbestos could also have been put at risk.

Fibers could stick to service members’ clothing and skin, so they could have unknowingly exposed their families to this carcinogen upon returning home from a day’s work.

The EWG reported on a 26-year-old woman who developed mesothelioma — she never worked with asbestos but her father, an Air Force mechanic, did.

Can U.S. Air Force veterans with mesothelioma apply for VA benefits?

Yes. U.S. Air Force veterans can receive mesothelioma VA benefits if they can prove their cancer or other related illness was caused by military asbestos exposure.

U.S. Air Force veterans with mesothelioma often qualify for the highest amount of disability compensation payouts available, as well as low-cost VA health care treatments.

U.S. Air Force veterans are also entitled to file private claims that can award $1 million or more. Call (866) 608-8933 now to get help with pursuing VA benefits and other forms of compensation for Air Force asbestos exposure.

Attorney Brian CookeReviewed by:Brian J. Cooke

Partner at Simmons Hanly Conroy & U.S. Marine Corps Veteran

  • Fact-Checked
  • Legal Editor

Attorney Brian Cooke is a partner at Simmons Hanly Conroy and a proud U.S. Marine Corps veteran. With over 20 years of experience fighting for justice on behalf of his clients, Brian has successfully secured millions in compensation for mesothelioma patients and their families.

  • Practicing Attorney Since 2000
  • Handled Hundreds of Asbestos Cases
  • Veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps
Jenna TozziWritten by:

Director of Patient Advocacy

Jenna Tozzi, RN, is the Director of Patient Advocacy at Mesothelioma Hope. With more than 15 years of experience as an adult and pediatric oncology nurse navigator, Jenna provides exceptional guidance and support to mesothelioma patients and their loved ones. Jenna has been featured in Oncology Nursing News and is a member of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators & the American Nurses Association.

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References
  1. Environmental Working Group Action Fund. (n.d.). The Hidden Enemy: Asbestos’ Long, Deadly Toll on U.S. Veterans. Retrieved February 20, 2024, from https://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/67-2021/testimony/SIBL-1207-20210317-9735-A-HALL_JOE.pdf
  2. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). (2022, December 2). The VA claim process after you file your claim. Retrieved February 20, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/disability/after-you-file-claim/
  3. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, October 12). Veterans asbestos exposure.
    Retrieved February 20, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/asbestos/
  4. Watson, L. (2023, March 31). Rebuilding set to start after final original panel removed from Air Force Academy chapel. Retrieved February 20, 2024, from https://www.kktv.com/2023/03/31/rebuilding-set-start-after-final-original-panel-removed-air-force-academy-chapel/
  5. War Related Illness and Injury Study Center. (n.d.). Asbestos Fact Sheet. Retrieved February 20, 2024, from https://www.warrelatedillness.va.gov/WARRELATEDILLNESS/education/factsheets/asbestos-exposure.pdf
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