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Marine Veterans and Mesothelioma

In the mid-20th century, the U.S. Marine Corps was faced with an unsuspecting threat while in the line of duty. Marines heavily relied on a mineral called asbestos without knowing it could cause deadly diseases like mesothelioma. Now, Marines with mesothelioma can file for veterans benefits and take legal action to get justice and compensation.

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

Updated by: Laura Wright on

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Asbestos Exposure in Marine Corps Veterans

U.S. Marine Corps veterans are at risk of a deadly cancer called mesothelioma if they were exposed to asbestos decades ago.

A close-up of a U.S. Marine soldier in uniform

Asbestos was widely used by all branches of the United States military — including the Marine Corps — from the 1930s until the early 1980s. Asbestos was used to keep U.S. Marine Corps assets insulated, fireproof, and more durable in the event of an enemy attack.

Asbestos-containing products were used to make Marine:

  • Bases and barracks
  • Planes and other aircraft
  • Ships
  • Vehicles

At the time, those serving in the U.S. Marine Corps did not know that asbestos was linked to life-threatening health problems. The manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew the risks, though, and hid the facts to keep making money.

Thankfully, veterans with mesothelioma can take action to access life-extending medical treatments and financial compensation. For example, veterans can file a claim with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to get monthly financial benefits and low-cost medical care.

The Mesothelioma Hope team can help you pursue VA benefits and other forms of compensation after military asbestos exposure. Download our Free Veterans Compensation Guide right now to get started.

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How Were U.S. Marines Exposed to Asbestos?

Anyone who served in the U.S. Marine Corps when asbestos was in use could have been exposed through products like insulation, gaskets, and tiling, but some were in more danger than others.

Below, see what locations and jobs put U.S. Marine Corps veterans at the highest risk of asbestos exposure.

U.S. Navy Ships

The Marine Corps falls under the U.S. Department of the Navy, and Marines were often assigned to U.S. Navy ships for missions. Marine Corps veterans who served on Navy vessels had a higher risk of asbestos exposure since the Navy used more asbestos than any other military branch.

Every Navy ship had asbestos aboard before the risks became public knowledge. Asbestos-containing products could be throughout Navy ships for fire resistance, insulation, and soundproofing.

Those at the highest risk of exposure were stationed in:

  • Boiler rooms
  • Propulsion rooms
  • Engine rooms
  • Galleys

Those that worked below deck, where poor ventilation made it easy to breathe in asbestos fibers, also had a high risk of exposure.

Marine Corps and Coast Guard ships were also built with many asbestos materials before the health risks were widely known.


Marines were often assigned to work in Navy shipyards, where asbestos-based products were removed and installed from ships. These activities put Marine Corps personnel and everyone else nearby in danger of exposure.

Those with a high risk of asbestos exposure worked with:

Even Marines who did not directly work on the ships — but still served in the shipyards — could have been exposed since the work often sent asbestos fibers flying into the air.

Marine Corps Bases and Barracks

Asbestos was frequently used to make military bases more sturdy, soundproof, and fire-resistant. Since the material was so versatile, it was used in dozens of construction products.

Cement, roofing materials, valves, and pipe coverings were just a few of many asbestos-based building products.

The following bases used asbestos in their building materials:

  • Camp H.M. Smith, Marine Corps Base Hawaii
  • Henderson Hall, Virginia
  • Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.
  • Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina
  • Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan
  • Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California
  • Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona
  • Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California
  • Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
  • Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California
  • Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley Butler, Japan
  • Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Hawaii
  • Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia
  • Marine Corps Detachment, Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba
  • Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina
  • Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California
  • Mountain Warfare Training Center, California

Marine Corps veterans who were stationed at these bases — and those who helped build them — may have been exposed to asbestos.

Learn more about the risks of asbestos use to Marine Corps veterans and how to access top treatments in our Free Mesothelioma Guide. Order now and the guide will be shipped to your door overnight.

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Asbestos was used to create friction-reducing products and heat-resistant fabrics in Marine vehicles.

Asbestos-containing products used in Marine vehicles included:

Marine mechanics had the greatest risk of exposure from these vehicles, as they had to install new asbestos-based parts and replace ones that were deteriorating.

VA Benefits for Marine Corps Veterans With Mesothelioma

The VA offers benefits for all veterans that developed mesothelioma after service-related asbestos exposure. Veterans can access monthly financial aid and free or low-cost cancer treatments by applying for these VA benefits.

To get mesothelioma VA benefits, you will need:

  1. Service records that list your job or specialty
  2. Documents showing you were exposed to asbestos while you served
  3. Medical records confirming your diagnosis
  4. A doctor’s statement linking your diagnosis to military asbestos exposure
  5. A discharge status that was not dishonorable

The Mesothelioma Hope team can help you pursue mesothelioma VA benefits now. Call (866) 608-8933 to find out your eligibility. We have U.S. veterans, VA-accredited attorneys, and caring patient advocates on staff to assist you.

Types of Mesothelioma VA Benefits

There are several types of VA benefits that Marine Corps veterans may receive if they developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease.

These VA benefits include:

  • Disability compensation: This monthly compensation is awarded to veterans who became disabled during (or because of) their military service. Married U.S. Marine Corps veterans with mesothelioma may qualify for $3,823.89 a month or more effective December 1, 2022, if they qualify for 100% disability.
  • Special Monthly Compensation (SMC): SMC is monthly aid intended for veterans along with their spouses, parents, and children. SMC payments can vary depending on a veteran’s health care needs (such as if they require full-time care from a nurse) and other factors.
  • VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC): This compensation is payable to spouses, children, parents, and other family members of active-duty military or veterans who passed away due to service-connected conditions like mesothelioma.
  • VA Health Care: Marine Corps veterans can receive mesothelioma treatments and other health care services through the VA health care system. Some of the world’s best mesothelioma doctors work with the VA to help U.S. veterans.
  • Other VA benefits: Veterans and their spouses can apply for other VA benefits like pensions (if their income is below a set amount), reimbursement of funeral expenses, and more.
  • Additional special circumstances: Additional compensation may be provided in special circumstances connected to a service-related disability, such as issues with driving, hospital time, inability to work, and more.

Filing for Marine Corps Mesothelioma VA Benefits

Marine Corps veterans can apply for mesothelioma VA benefits online, in person at a VA office, or even by mail.

Veterans are encouraged to apply for VA benefits as soon as they have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, as the cancer can spread rapidly through the body.

Filing for mesothelioma VA benefits can be confusing without help. Our Patient Advocates and veterans support team can help make the process easier. Get started now.

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Marine Corps veterans can also seek out legal help when looking to file VA claims. A mesothelioma lawyer can be a big help to U.S. Marine Corps veterans with mesothelioma.

Lawyers have many resources to help a veteran’s case, including:

  • Databases about asbestos-based products used by the military
  • Which manufacturers made these products and if they are still in business
  • Information on time limits when filing a VA claim or a private claim

Mesothelioma lawyers can also help veterans file private claims through the legal system to get even more financial aid. No legal action is taken against the U.S. military. Further, a veteran’s ability to file for VA benefits isn’t affected.

Remember: U.S. Marine Corps veterans like you deserve VA benefits and compensation after a mesothelioma diagnosis. Mesothelioma Hope has U.S. veterans, Patient Advocates, and VA-accredited attorneys on staff to help you.

Learn more by downloading your Free Veterans Compensation Guide.

Marine Veterans and Mesothelioma FAQs

Why are U.S. Marine Corps veterans at risk of mesothelioma?

U.S. Marines are in danger of mesothelioma because they could have been exposed to asbestos in bases, ships, and vehicles while they served.

Dozens of bases, including Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, were built with asbestos-containing materials.

The vehicles used on these bases also relied on asbestos products like clutches and gaskets, putting mechanics at a high risk of exposure.

Finally, Marine Corps veterans often served aboard U.S. Navy ships or worked in shipyards — which were hotbeds of exposure as the Navy used tons of asbestos in its vessels.

Why did the U.S. Marine Corps use asbestos if it was dangerous?

The U.S. Marine Corps and the general public didn’t realize that asbestos was dangerous for decades.

Manufacturers of asbestos-containing products failed to disclose the health risks even though they knew back in the 1930s that asbestos was harmful.

Once the risks became well-known in the early 1980s, all branches of the U.S military, including the Marine Corps, stopped using asbestos in new construction.

How can U.S. Marine Corps veterans get help after a mesothelioma diagnosis?

U.S. marines with mesothelioma are encouraged to file for VA benefits and pursue private claims after a diagnosis.

Through a VA claim, Marines may be able to receive top mesothelioma treatments from experienced doctors, as well as cash payouts for their illnesses.

Private options (like a mesothelioma legal claim or an asbestos trust fund claim) can also help Marine Corps veterans get financial compensation after a diagnosis. No action is taken against any branch of the military or government.

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. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, November 29). 2023 veterans disability compensation rates. Retrieved December 9, 2022, from

  2. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. (2022, October 12). Veterans Asbestos Exposure. Retrieved December 9, 2022, from

  3. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. (2021, March 20). I am a Veteran. Retrieved December 9, 2022, from

  4. War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (n.d.). Asbestos Fact Sheet. Retrieved December 9, 2022, from

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