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Mesothelioma and Coast Guard Veterans

U.S. Coast Guard veterans who served between the 1930s and the early 1980s may have been exposed to asbestos, a dangerous mineral linked to cancers like mesothelioma. Coast Guard veterans with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases can get benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and compensation with our help.

Legally reviewed by: Brian J. Cooke

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Asbestos Exposure in Coast Guard Veterans

A U.S. military veteran and his wife

Asbestos is a natural mineral once commonly used to make U.S. Coast Guard ships, planes, bases, and vehicles durable and heat-resistant.

However, any Coast Guard members who came in contact with asbestos were put in grave danger. Asbestos is now known to cause deadly cancers like mesothelioma decades after exposure.

Coast Guard veterans may be at risk of mesothelioma if they:

  • Built or renovated ships, buildings, planes, or vehicles
  • Served on Coast Guard ships
  • Worked in Coast Guard shipyards

The good news is that U.S. veterans with mesothelioma can get medical care and financial compensation from both the VA and private sources. While fighting cancer is never easy, these options can help ease some of the burdens that veterans and their loved ones may face.

Mesothelioma Hope’s team of veterans, VA-accredited staff, and advocates is proud to help Coast Guard veterans file for or increase their VA benefits. Download our Free Veterans Compensation Guide right now and get started.

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How Are Coast Guard Veterans at Risk of Mesothelioma?

Between the 1930s and 1980s, U.S. Coast Guard vessels, shipyards, and bases relied on asbestos-containing products. If the products were worn down or damaged, asbestos fibers might have been released into the air, and Coast Guard personnel could have breathed in or swallowed the fibers.

Coast Guard members who were exposed to asbestos frequently or over a long period of time are more likely to face health problems like mesothelioma.

The fibers would get stuck in the body and over 10 to 50 years, irritation from asbestos fibers could cause deadly health problems like mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis, according to the Mayo Clinic.

High-Risk Asbestos Coast Guard Occupations

Some Coast Guard veterans have a higher risk of mesothelioma if they regularly worked with asbestos-containing products as part of their military occupation.

Coast Guard roles with a high risk of exposure included:

These are just a few of many jobs that may have put Coast Guard veterans at risk of Coast Guard asbestos exposure and mesothelioma.

Call (866) 608-8933 to get help determining if your Coast Guard service led to a mesothelioma diagnosis.

U.S. Coast Guard Ships and Asbestos Risks

U.S. Coast Guard cutter ship

Because asbestos was easily available and flame-retardant, it was widely used aboard U.S. Coast Guard ships to reduce the risk of fire at sea.

The main type of ship used by the Coast Guard is known as a cutter. 242 cutters made before 1990 used asbestos, according to official Coast Guard documents.

Asbestos products used on Coast Guard cutters included:

Asbestos could be found virtually everywhere on Coast Guard cutters. Some of the highest-risk areas for Coast Guard asbestos exposure aboard cutters included boiler rooms, engine rooms, and navigation rooms.

Since Coast Guard cutters often had poor ventilation below decks, those who worked there were at a high risk of exposure as the fibers remained in the air.

Did You Know?

Many older Coast Guard cutters still in service today have asbestos-containing products aboard. When reporting on its budget in 2023, the Coast Guard mentioned asbestos and lead paint as serious hazards aboard many of its aging ships.

Coast Guard cutters were not the only ships that used asbestos materials. All vessels made by the other military branches — especially Navy ships — heavily relied on asbestos until the health risks became apparent.

U.S. Coast Guard Shipyards and Asbestos Exposure

Shipyards also put Coast Guard personnel at risk of exposure, as this is where asbestos materials were installed and removed from cutters.

A major site of Coast Guard asbestos exposure was the Curtis Bay Coast Guard shipyard, the branch’s only shipbuilding facility. A study found that shipyard workers who served between 1950 and 1964 at Curtis Bay had a significant risk of mesothelioma and other cancers, most likely due to asbestos exposure.

Coast Guard Bases That Used Asbestos

Outside of its cutters and other vessels, the U.S. Coast Guard also relied on asbestos-based products to build its bases and other structures.

Asbestos-containing insulation, flooring and ceiling tiles, and wiring were just a few of many asbestos-containing products used to build Coast Guard bases.

Coast Guard bases that used asbestos included: 

  • U.S. Coast Guard Base Alameda, California
  • U.S. Coast Guard Base Gloucester, New Jersey
  • U.S. Coast Guard Base Los Angeles Long Beach, California
  • U.S. Coast Guard Station, Connecticut
  • U.S. Coast Guard Station Curtis Bay, Maryland
  • United States Coast Guard Yard, Maryland

Anyone serving on these Coast Guard bases could have been exposed to asbestos, but those at greatest risk either helped build the bases or repaired asbestos-containing products inside them. Many other military bases also relied on asbestos-based products.

Our Patient Advocates can help pinpoint how you may have been exposed to asbestos and connect you with helpful mesothelioma resources. Reach out to them 24/7 to get started.

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VA Benefits for Coast Guard Veterans with Mesothelioma

Coast Guard veterans with mesothelioma caused by military asbestos exposure may qualify for VA benefits even though the cancer does not usually develop until decades after service.

VA benefits can help Coast Guard veterans in a number of ways. For example, veterans can receive monthly financial aid and life-extending medical treatment from top mesothelioma doctors who work with the VA.

Types of Coast Guard VA Mesothelioma Benefits

There are five main types of VA disability benefits available to Coast Guard veterans and their families, according to the VA.

  • Disability compensation: This tax-free benefit is paid to a veteran for an illness or injury that’s linked to their military service. Married veterans with mesothelioma may be able to receive $3,946.25 per month in disability for 2024.
  • Special Monthly Compensation (SMC): This tax-free benefit is paid to veterans or their spouses on top of disability compensation. SMC is available if the veteran needs care from another person.
  • VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC): This is tax-free compensation paid to the surviving family of a service member or veteran, usually a spouse or child. Family members might qualify for VA DIC if a veteran passes away from mesothelioma.
  • VA health care: Veterans can pursue treatment options through the VA’s medical system and get low-cost or free care. The VA health care system includes doctors who specialize in treating mesothelioma.
  • Other benefits: Veterans and their families may qualify for other benefits like a pension and reimbursement of funeral costs. Based on their individual needs, veterans may also qualify for more specific forms of disability compensation.

After a mesothelioma diagnosis, Coast Guard veterans should file a VA claim as soon as possible. Mesothelioma is very aggressive and can spread quickly, so receiving compensation and treatment as soon as possible can be very helpful.

Download our Free Veterans Compensation Guide for help filing or increasing your mesothelioma VA benefits.

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  • Receive legal compensation

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We Can Help U.S. Coast Guard Veterans with Mesothelioma

If you served in the U.S. Coast Guard and are now fighting mesothelioma, you deserve top VA benefits and financial compensation to help yourself and your family.

Mesothelioma Hope’s skilled team of fellow veterans, VA-accredited personnel, and caring Patient Advocates can help you pursue VA benefits, treatments, and compensation with less stress.

By filing VA and private claims, you can take the power back from the makers of asbestos-based products, who knew the health effects of this dangerous material but let the Coast Guard use it anyway.

Download your Free Veterans Compensation Guide to learn more about the types of compensation and benefits you may qualify for.

Mesothelioma Coast Guard Veterans FAQs

Did U.S. Coast Guard ships use asbestos?

Yes. Official Coast Guard documents list 242 cutters that were built with asbestos. The U.S. Coast Guard used asbestos to keep its cutters well-insulated and reduce the risk of fires.

Anyone who served aboard these cutters could have been exposed to asbestos and thus could be at risk of mesothelioma today.

Can you sue the Coast Guard for asbestos exposure?

It’s not possible to sue the U.S. Coast Guard if you were exposed to asbestos. But, you may qualify to sue manufacturers of asbestos-containing products if you now have mesothelioma or another disease caused by your exposure.

The average mesothelioma lawsuit awards over $1 million. No other branches of the military or government will be sued as part of this process.

Can veterans get compensation for asbestos?

Yes, U.S. Coast Guard veterans can get compensation if they were exposed to asbestos and now have mesothelioma.

Qualifying Coast Guard veterans who are married could receive nearly $4,000 per month in VA disability compensation for mesothelioma, along with low-cost or free health care.

Coast Guard veterans can also file mesothelioma lawsuits and trust fund claims to get compensation worth $1 million or more.

Taking legal action doesn’t affect a veteran’s ability to file for VA benefits and the military and government won’t be sued.

Can Coast Guard veterans get VA disability?

Yes, the VA typically offers 100% disability benefits to Coast Guard veterans with mesothelioma. This allows veterans to get the highest disability payouts and free or inexpensive cancer treatments.

Download our Free Veterans Compensation Guide for help securing VA disability benefits after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Can U.S. Coast Guard veterans get financial aid outside of VA benefits?

Possibly, yes. Coast Guard veterans can file private mesothelioma claims and get compensation from the makers of asbestos-containing products through the legal system.

Private mesothelioma veterans claims sometimes award millions of dollars.

Your claim won’t be filed with the U.S. military, government, or the Coast Guard. You will be holding the manufacturers responsible for your illness accountable.

Further, you can still file for VA benefits if you decide to file a private claim and get compensation from both sources. Call our team today at (866) 608-8933 to learn more.

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
Laura WrightWritten 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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References
  1. Glass, P. (2023, May 3). Coast Guard commandant grilled at House hearing. Retrieved May 9, 2024, from https://www.workboat.com/viewpoints/coast-guard-commandant-grilled-at-house-hearing
  2. Krstev, S., Stewart, P., Rusiecki, J., & Blair, A. (n.d). Mortality among shipyard Coast Guard workers: a retrospective cohort study. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 64(10), 651–658. doi: 10.1136/oem.2006.029652
  3. Mayo Clinic. (2022, October 11). Mesothelioma. Retrieved May 9, 2024, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mesothelioma/symptoms-causes/syc-20375022
  4. U.S. Coast Guard. (n.d.). Coast Guard Cutters Constructed Prior to 1991 and in Service From 1990 to 2017. Retrieved May 9, 2024, from https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Portals/10/CG-1/cg112/CG1121/docs/pdf/Coast%20Guard%20Cutters%20Constructed%20Prior%20to%201991%20and%20in%20Service%20from%201990%20to%202017.pdf?ver=2018-01-31-150240-237
  5. U.S. Coast Guard. (n.d.). Information for Coast Guard Veterans and Retirees Filing for Veterans Affairs Disability Compensation Due to Asbestos- and Lead-Related Health Effects. Retrieved May 9, 2024, from https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Human-Resources-CG-1/Health-Safety-and-Work-Life-CG-11/Office-of-Health-Services-CG-112/Asbestos-Lead-Health-Effects/
  6. U.S. Coast Guard. (n.d.). U.S. Coast Guard Yard. Retrieved May 9, 2024, from https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Engineering-Logistics-CG-4-/Logistic-Centers/Surface-Forces-Logistics-Center/Coast-Guard-Yard/
  7. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, November 29). 2024 VA Special Monthly Compensation Rates. Retrieved May 9, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/disability/compensation-rates/special-monthly-compensation-rates/
  8. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, October 12). Veterans asbestos exposure. Retrieved May 9, 2024, from https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/asbestos/
  9. U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. (n.d.). Mortality Among Shipyard Coast Guard Workers: A Retrospective Cohort Study. Retrieved May 9, 2024, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2078389/
  10. War Related Illness and Injury Study Center. (n.d.). Asbestos Fact Sheet. Retrieved May 9, 2024, from https://www.warrelatedillness.va.gov/WARRELATEDILLNESS/education/factsheets/asbestos-exposure.pdf
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