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Mesothelioma and Army Veterans

Veterans who served in the U.S. Army between the 1930s and early 1980s were likely exposed to asbestos, a life-threatening material that causes mesothelioma. The Army relied heavily on asbestos-based products before the risks were well-known. Thankfully, Army veterans with mesothelioma can pursue or increase their VA benefits and get private compensation.

Legally reviewed by: Brian J. Cooke

Last updated:

Why Are U.S. Army Veterans at Risk of Mesothelioma?

U.S. Army veterans who served before the early 1980s could develop mesothelioma and other deadly illnesses due to asbestos exposure.

The exterior of an Army barracks

The U.S. Army heavily relied on asbestos-containing products due to their durability and fire-resistant properties.

The Army had been using asbestos for roughly 50 years before the risks became well-known in the 1980s.

Thankfully, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) now offers medical aid and financial payouts to help veterans with mesothelioma.

The Mesothelioma Hope team, consisting of U.S. veterans, Patient Advocates, and VA-accredited claims agents can help you access or increase your VA benefit payouts and file other claims.

Download your Free Veterans Compensation Guide to learn how to get help for Army asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma veteran support guide
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  • File a VA claim
  • Receive legal compensation

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How Did the U.S. Army Use Asbestos?

The U.S. Army used asbestos-based products in many different ways. In particular, U.S. Army bases were built with many asbestos-containing products. Army vehicles like trucks and jeeps used asbestos as well.

Army products that contained asbestos included:

These products were used in a variety of ways by the U.S. Army, from making bases and buildings fireproof and well-insulated to helping military vehicle parts last longer.

Asbestos Use on U.S. Army Bases

There are almost 70 U.S. Army bases that are known to have used asbestos-containing products.

Army bases that used asbestos include:

  • Blue Grass Army Depot, Kentucky
  • Camp Blanding, Florida
  • Camp San Luis Obispo, California
  • Fort Benning, Georgia
  • Fort Bragg, North Carolina
  • Fort Campbell, Tennessee/Kentucky border
  • Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Fort Dix, New Jersey
  • Fort Hood, Texas
  • Fort Jackson, South Carolina
  • Fort Lee, Virginia
  • Fort Lewis, Washington
  • Fort Knox, Kentucky
  • Fort Monmouth, New Jersey
  • Fort Shafter, Hawaii
  • New Cumberland Army Depot, Pennsylvania
  • Pueblo Chemical Depot, North Carolina
  • Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois

Asbestos could be found throughout U.S. Army bases during this time. It was often used in insulation due to its heat-resistant properties.

Did You Know?

Some buildings on older Army bases contain asbestos even in the present day. Fort Campbell in Kentucky demolished several asbestos-containing buildings made during World War II in 2021.

The list above contains only a few of the many Army bases that used asbestos. Don’t see your base listed? We can help — call (866) 608-8933 to learn if a U.S. Army base you served on used asbestos.

Army Jobs With High Risk of Asbestos Exposure

Anyone exposed to asbestos can develop mesothelioma later in life. That said, U.S. Army personnel who directly worked with asbestos-containing materials had the highest risk of exposure.

The U.S. Corps of Army Engineers were the highest-risk group, since they had to build structures using asbestos-based products.

Other high-risk Army occupations were:

Army personnel working on these jobs handled asbestos on a daily basis, meaning their exposure risks were much higher than general soldiers.

Modern Risks of Army Asbestos Exposure

Today, soldiers who serve (or have served) in Middle Eastern or Southeast Asian countries may also be at risk of asbestos exposure. These countries still use asbestos-containing materials when constructing their buildings and structures.

Damage to these buildings during combat may release asbestos fibers into the air, putting modern-day Army personnel serving in these countries at risk of mesothelioma later in life.

Asbestos Use in U.S. Army Vehicles

Army vehicle parts were made with asbestos to help them last longer and, in the case of brake linings and pads, reduce friction.

Asbestos-containing parts in Army vehicles include:

  • Clutch facings
  • Brake linings
  • Gaskets
  • Transmission parts
  • Undercoating
  • Valves and heat seals

If Army vehicles needed repairs, the risk of releasing asbestos particles into the air grew exponentially.

Exposure to these airborne asbestos fibers increased the odds of members of the armed forces inhaling or ingesting them and developing mesothelioma.

Download your Free Veterans Compensation Guide to access VA benefits, increase your VA payouts, and get other forms of financial aid if you’re a U.S. Army veteran with mesothelioma.

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

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VA Benefits for Army Veterans With Mesothelioma

Veterans of the U.S. Army who have developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure are entitled to VA benefits. This includes health care and compensation.

Key mesothelioma VA benefits include:

  • Disability compensation: U.S. military veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma are eligible for monthly tax-free disability payments. Married veterans with mesothelioma receive nearly $4,000 every month through this benefit as of 2024.
  • Special Monthly Compensation (SMC): A veteran who is already receiving disability compensation may collect this additional monthly payout if they have special needs (for example, a live-in caregiver).
  • VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC): Surviving spouses and children of a veteran who died due to a military-related injury or illness (like mesothelioma) can receive this tax-free monthly VA DIC benefits.
  • VA health care: Veterans with mesothelioma can get treatment from some of the best mesothelioma doctors in the world through the VA. Many VA health care services are low-cost or free.
  • Other benefits: The VA benefits listed above are just a few that Army veterans with mesothelioma and their families may qualify for. Pension plans, reimbursement for burial costs, and other forms of financial compensation may be available.

Filing for Army Mesothelioma VA Benefits

Army veterans eligible for VA benefits can apply online (va.gov), in person at a VA regional office, or by mail.

Requirements to file include: 

  • Discharge Status: Veterans are not eligible if they were dishonorably discharged.
  • Disability During Active Duty: A veteran’s injury or illness must be the result of something that occurred during active duty, such as exposure to asbestos that caused mesothelioma.

VA benefits applications should be completed as soon as a mesothelioma diagnosis is confirmed. The sooner a VA claim is filed, the sooner the veteran can get their monthly payouts and pursue low-cost medical treatments.

Our team can help you file for Army mesothelioma VA benefits right now or increase your VA payouts. Call (866) 608-8933 to get started.

Private Benefits for Army Veterans With Mesothelioma

Besides receiving financial aid and medical care from the VA, U.S. Army veterans with mesothelioma are entitled to private compensation as well. By filing private mesothelioma claims, veterans can receive millions of dollars on average.

Recent payouts for U.S. Army veterans with mesothelioma include:

  • $4.3 million for a boilermaker
  • $3.9 million for a painter
  • $3.2 million for a maintenance worker
  • $2.9 million for a pipefitter

Veterans can work with VA-accredited mesothelioma lawyers to receive military benefits and file private claims. These mesothelioma lawyers can see when, where, and how a veteran was exposed to asbestos (which is crucial to building a VA claim) and demand compensation from makers of asbestos-based products.

Filing private claims will not impact a veteran’s ability to get VA benefits. Further, no legal action is taken against the U.S. Army or government.

Help for U.S. Army Veterans With Mesothelioma

U.S. Army veterans never deserved to develop life-threatening illnesses like mesothelioma simply from serving their country. Sadly, far too many U.S. Army veterans are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year.

U.S. Army veterans need access to top-notch medical care and financial aid if they’re suffering from mesothelioma. And the good news is that both are available right now.

The Mesothelioma Hope team can help you or a loved one pursue VA benefits, medical treatment, and private compensation. Learn about all the ways we can help you in our Free Mesothelioma Guide — shipped overnight to you.

Mesothelioma Army Veterans FAQs

Are U.S. Army veterans at risk of mesothelioma after asbestos exposure?

Yes. U.S. Army veterans can develop mesothelioma after asbestos exposure during their service, as asbestos is the only known cause of this cancer.

If Army veterans worked around or with asbestos-based products, they could inhale microscopic fibers into their bodies. After 10-50 years, irritation from these fibers could cause cancer tumors to form.

The U.S. Army used asbestos in many of its bases and vehicles not knowing the risks, as manufacturers of asbestos-based products concealed the dangers for decades.

Exposure to asbestos can also lead to lung cancer, asbestosis, and other diseases. Fortunately, affected Army veterans can receive VA benefits for these illnesses too.

For how long did the Army use asbestos products?

The U.S. Army used asbestos from the 1930s to the early 1980s.

However, the risks of asbestos were largely not known for decades.

Makers of asbestos-based products hid the truth from military service members to keep making millions of dollars. In the process, they exposed countless Army members and civilians to the dangers of asbestos.

It was not until the 1980s that the U.S. Army and other military branches took proper steps to remove asbestos and limit its future use.

What benefits are available to U.S. Army veterans with mesothelioma?

U.S. Army veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma can receive VA benefits (including financial aid and military medical care) and compensation from private claims.

VA benefits can allow veterans to receive thousands of dollars each month in many cases. Further, veterans can also get medical treatment from top mesothelioma doctors with VA health care.

Finally, veterans can file private claims against the makers of asbestos-based products. These claims often pay out millions of dollars, though each case is different.

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. Absher, J. (2022, May 13). Asbestos illness related to military service. Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://www.military.com/benefits/veteran-benefits/asbestos-and-the-military-history-exposure-assistance.html
  2. Babich, J. (2021, May 10). ‘Never intended to be permanent:’ Fort Campbell bulldozes World War II era buildings. Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/2021/05/11/fort-campbell-bulldozes-world-war-ii-era-buildings/4536509001/
  3. Environmental Protection Agency. (2022, April 05). Asbestos. Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://www.epa.gov/asbestos
  4. U.S. Army (2014, October 14). Asbestos Can Only Pose Danger When Airborne. Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://www.army.mil/article/137053/Asbestos_can_only_pose_danger_when_airborne/
  5. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, November 29). 2023 VA Special Monthly Compensation Rates. Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/disability/compensation-rates/special-monthly-compensation-rates/
  6. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, October 12). Veterans asbestos exposure.
    Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/asbestos/
  7. War Related Illness and Injury Study Center. (n.d.). Asbestos Fact Sheet. Retrieved Retrieved January 26, 2024, from https://www.warrelatedillness.va.gov/WARRELATEDILLNESS/education/factsheets/asbestos-exposure.pdf
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