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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 harmful material that causes mesothelioma. The Army relied heavily on asbestos-based products before the risks were well-known. Thankfully, U.S. Army veterans with mesothelioma can pursue VA benefits and private compensation.

Legally Reviewed and Fact-Checked by: Christopher R. Guinn

Updated by: Laura Wright on

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

U.S. Army veterans that served before the early 1980s could develop mesothelioma and other life-threatening 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. In particular, U.S. Army bases were built with many asbestos-containing products. Army vehicles like trucks and jeeps used asbestos as well.

The Army had been consistently 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 pursue VA benefits and other claims. Download your Free Veterans Compensation Guide to learn how to get help for Army asbestos exposure.

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How Did the U.S. Army Use Asbestos?

Though the U.S. Army wasn’t the largest consumer of asbestos (the U.S. Navy held that distinction), soldiers still were put in harm’s way on a regular basis from numerous asbestos-based products.

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 a primary component of insulation due to its heat-resistant properties and was used in many Army barracks and other buildings on these bases.

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 — tasked with building structures using asbestos-based products — were the highest-risk group. Construction activities like drilling and sanding released asbestos fibers into the air.

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.

Our Patient Advocates can help you file for VA benefits if you or a family member developed mesothelioma after serving in the U.S. Army. Reach out to them right now to start the process.

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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 $3,823.89 every month through this benefit as of December 1, 2022.
  • 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 (, 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. Call (866) 608-8933 to get started, or learn more in our Free Veterans Compensation Guide.

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 sometimes receive millions of dollars.

Our partner law firm, Simmons Hanly Conroy, has secured the following private payouts on behalf of U.S. Army veterans:

  • $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 use of asbestos in the Army lasted 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.

Reviewed by:Christopher R. Guinn

Partner at Simmons Hanly Conroy & U.S. Air Force Veteran

  • Fact-Checked
  • Legal Editor

Attorney Chris Guinn is a partner at Simmons Hanly Conroy. Since he joined the firm in 2004, Chris has dedicated his practice to representing mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease victims and has recovered millions of dollars on their behalf.

  • Practicing Attorney Since 2004
  • Worked on 300+ Asbestos Cases
  • Veteran of the U.S. Air Force
Written by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

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  1. Absher, J. (2022, May 13). Asbestos illness related to military service. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from

  2. Environmental Protection Agency. (2022, April 05). Asbestos. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from

  3. Pawełczyk, A., & Božek, F. (2015). Health risk associated with airborne asbestos. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 187(7), 1-11. doi:10.1007/s10661-015-4614-3

  4. Till, J. E., Beck, H. L., Boice, J. D., Mohler, H. J., Mumma, M. T., Aanenson, J. W., & Grogan, H. A. (2018). Asbestos exposure and mesothelioma mortality among atomic veterans. International Journal of Radiation Biology, 1-5. doi:10.1080/09553002.2018.1551641

  5. U.S. Army (2014, October 14). Asbestos Can Only Pose Danger When Airborne.  Retrieved December 13, 2022, from

  6. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, November 29). 2023 VA Special Monthly Compensation Rates. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from

  7. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, October 12). Veterans asbestos exposure.
    Retrieved December 13, 2022, from

  8. War Related Illness and Injury Study Center. (n.d.). Asbestos Fact Sheet. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from


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