Mesothelioma and Asbestos in the Marine Corps
Many Marine Corps veterans are being diagnosed with mesothelioma today due to this exposure. Thankfully, there are excellent treatment plans and support options available specifically for military veterans, including Marines. Marine Corps veterans with mesothelioma can extend their life expectancy and improve their quality of life with these advanced treatments and support systems.
Asbestos Exposure in the Marine Corps
Marines were often transferred to duty sites in Navy ships, Air Force planes and Army trucks, each containing asbestos. Many of these transport vehicles and vessels released airborne asbestos fibers which were easy for Marines to inhale and ingest.
Navy ships built before 1970 contained huge amounts of asbestos, primarily in insulation and fireproofing. Aircrafts used asbestos for the same reasons. Army vehicles contained asbestos in many parts like brakes, gaskets, hoses, and clutches. All forms of transportation used by Marines had airborne asbestos fibers in their environments.
Amphibious assault vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, and transport trucks contained asbestos. High-risk exposure also came from aircraft cargo holds that moved Marines. Marines were exposed to airborne asbestos particles while being mobilized in transport aircraft like the pre-1970 Hercules cargo planes as well.
Another source of high-exposure were battlegrounds where foreign buildings with asbestos were destroyed by bombing. Asbestos fibers were blown apart, polluting the surrounding environment.
Marines were also stationed in bases with asbestos-containing buildings. This included their barracks and training buildings.
These buildings contained asbestos products like:
- Roofing shingles
- Floor tiles
- Ceiling panels
Marine mechanics had some of the highest risk jobs. Disassembling burnt gaskets, brakes and clutches produced large amounts of asbestos dust that was inhaled. Gunners in tanks were highly exposed by wearing asbestos gloves to handle hot shell casings. Tank environments employed asbestos for insulation and fire resistance in heating and cooling systems, as well as in firewalls.
The current Marine M1 Abrams tank has little asbestos products. However, its predecessor, the M60 Patton tank, contained high levels of asbestos insulation, sound deadening and fireproofing. This tank was introduced in the 1960s.
Marine Corps jobs with the highest risks of asbestos exposure include:
- Combat Arms
- Vehicle Operators
- Maintenance and Repair Workers
In addition to those in jobs like construction and vehicle repairs, most Marines were exposed to asbestos in confined, polluted spaces. This exposure commonly occurred while Marines were in training, transit or holding for field operations.
Mesothelioma Treatments for Marine Corps Veterans
Marine Corps veterans may develop mesothelioma due to their exposure to asbestos. The microscopic, airborne fibers are inhaled and ingested, getting lodged deep within the lung and/or abdominal linings. After 20 to 40 years of prolonged irritation, cellular mutations occur. This causes mesothelioma.
Marine Corps veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma have several important treatment options.
Treatment options include:
- Chemotherapy (cancer-killing drugs)
- Surgery (physical removal of mesothelioma tumors)
- Radiation therapy (high-energy destruction and shrinking of tumors)
Emerging mesothelioma treatments give hope for excellent progress over the next several years.
Some of the promising new treatments available to Marine Corps veterans include:
- Genetic therapy where DNA molecules are rewritten
- Photodynamics where light and photosensitizing medications attack cancer cells
- Immunotherapy where the body’s immune system is boosted to control cancer cells
Mesothelioma Support for Marine Corps Veterans
It is important for Marine Corps members to know that the military was not at fault for their long-term asbestos exposure. That responsibility belongs to asbestos manufacturers and suppliers. These companies were well aware of the dangers but intentionally withheld information from the U.S. Government and military branches.
There are avenues of government compensation available for Marine Corps veterans suffering from mesothelioma. Marines who faced long-term asbestos exposure and developed an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma are eligible for Service Connected (SC) compensation benefits issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA).
If you are a Marine Corps veteran and are experiencing symptoms of mesothelioma, it is important to see a mesothelioma specialist. Talk to your doctor today about getting a referral to one of the country’s top mesothelioma treatment centers for veterans.