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. Thankfully, Coast Guard veterans with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases can get benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and compensation from private claims.

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

Asbestos Exposure in Coast Guard Veterans

A U.S. military veteran and his wife

Asbestos is a natural mineral that was once commonly used to create highly durable, heat-resistant products. These properties made asbestos-containing products very helpful aboard U.S. Coast Guard ships, planes, bases, and vehicles.

Unfortunately, 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 on-staff veterans, VA-accredited staff, and advocates is proud to help Coast Guard veterans pursue 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?

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.

As asbestos-containing materials break down or become worn, they begin to release microscopic fibers into the air. If breathed in or swallowed, asbestos fibers can irritate the linings of the lungs, abdominal cavity, heart, or testicles.

Over 10 to 50 years, irritation from asbestos fibers can cause victims to develop 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. We can help determine if Coast Guard service led to your cancer — call (866) 608-8933 now to learn more.

U.S. Coast Guard Ships and Asbestos Risks

U.S. Coast Guard cutter ship

Because asbestos was so easily available and so flame-retardant, it was widely used aboard Coast Guard ships in an effort to reduce the risk of a 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 had a high risk of exposure as the fibers remained in the air.

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.

Did You Know?

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 those who worked in the yard between 1950 and 1964 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. Veterans with mesothelioma who are married can usually receive $3,823.89 per month as of December 2022 through this benefit.
  • 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. There are also more specific forms of disability compensation that veterans may qualify for based on their individual needs.

Filing a Coast Guard Mesothelioma VA Claim

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.

Mesothelioma VA claims can be filed:

  • By mail
  • By working with a VA claims agent
  • In person
  • Online
  • With the help of a VA-accredited mesothelioma lawyer

We can help you pursue mesothelioma VA benefits and receive private compensation. Call us now at (866) 608-8933 to get started.

More Help for Coast Guard Veterans With Mesothelioma

Having served their country, Coast Guard veterans deserve to know all of the many ways their country can now help them.

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

You never realized that asbestos could cause you to get sick — and you deserve compensation to help yourself and your family. 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 U.S. Coast Guard veterans with mesothelioma receive VA benefits?

Yes. The VA offers benefits to Coast Guard veterans with mesothelioma because, although the military undertook major asbestos removal programs in the 1980s and 1990s, thousands had already been put at risk.

Common VA benefits awarded to Coast Guard veterans include disability compensation that could be worth almost $4,000 per month along with low-cost or free health care.

Our team can help you pursue VA benefits right now. Contact us to learn more.

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.

Reviewed by:Christopher R. Guinn

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

  • Fact-Checked
  • Legal Editor

Attorney Chris Guinn is a shareholder 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 14 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.

9 References
  1. 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

  2. Mayo Clinic. (2022, October 11). Mesothelioma. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mesothelioma/symptoms-causes/syc-20375022

  3. U.S. Coast Guard. (n.d.). Coast Guard Cutters Constructed Prior to 1991 and in Service From 1990 to 2017. Retrieved December 13, 2022, 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

  4. 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 December 13, 2022, 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/

  5. U.S. Coast Guard. (n.d.). U.S. Coast Guard Yard. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Engineering-Logistics-CG-4-/Logistic-Centers/Surface-Forces-Logistics-Center/Coast-Guard-Yard/

  6. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, November 29). 2023 VA Special Monthly Compensation Rates. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from https://www.va.gov/disability/compensation-rates/special-monthly-compensation-rates/

  7. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, October 12). Veterans asbestos exposure. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/asbestos/

  8. U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. (n.d.). Mortality Among Shipyard Coast Guard Workers: A Retrospective Cohort Study. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2078389/

  9. War Related Illness and Injury Study Center. (n.d.). Asbestos Fact Sheet. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from https://www.warrelatedillness.va.gov/WARRELATEDILLNESS/education/factsheets/asbestos-exposure.pdf

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