Mesothelioma and U.S. Navy Veterans

U.S. Navy veterans have a higher risk of developing mesothelioma than those who served in any other U.S. military branch. For decades, the Navy used a high amount of asbestos — a cancer-causing substance — in ships, vehicles, buildings, and bases. Thankfully, Navy veterans with mesothelioma may be eligible for military benefits, health care, and financial compensation for asbestos exposure.

Written and Fact-Checked by: Mesothelioma Hope Team

Asbestos Exposure in the Navy

Veterans who served in the U.S. Navy may have been exposed to asbestos at higher rates than those who served in other military branches. As a result, Navy veterans also have very high rates of mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

DID YOU KNOW? Over 30% of all mesothelioma patients are military veterans, and Navy veterans comprise most of those cases.

The Navy used asbestos since it was soundproof, fireproof, noncorrosive, nonconductive, and cheap to purchase.

The Navy used asbestos to build:

  • Buildings
  • Military bases
  • Ships
  • Vehicles
  • Other assets

Every American Navy ship built between the 1930s and the early 1980s contained asbestos materials.

The Navy did not realize that asbestos was dangerous for decades, as makers of asbestos-based products hid the risks. The Navy stopped using asbestos-containing materials in the 1980s when the health risks became widely publicized, but many Navy service members had already been exposed.

Thankfully, there is help for veterans who have developed mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. Veterans can pursue compensation and justice by filing a mesothelioma lawsuit.

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Navy Jobs With High Risk of Asbestos Exposure

Since the Navy was one of the largest consumers of asbestos-containing products, many Navy veterans could not avoid asbestos exposure while serving our country.

Every Navy veteran exposed to asbestos while on duty may be at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases later in life. Some Navy occupations were at a higher risk than others.

The highest risk U.S. Navy occupations were:

  • Boiler technicians
  • Electricians
  • Engine operators
  • Firefighters
  • Gunners
  • Hull maintenance workers
  • Insulators
  • Machinists
  • Mechanics
  • Pipefitters
  • Plumbers
  • Seabees
  • Shipbuilders
  • Steelworkers
  • Weapons specialists
  • Welders

Different jobs required Navy veterans to work around asbestos products daily. As the products were damaged or manipulated, they could send asbestos fibers flying into the air. The Navy personnel working around them could inhale the asbestos fibers and develop diseases decades later.

Navy Ships and Asbestos Exposure Risk

Many U.S. Navy veterans spent most of their time on military ships that contained tons of asbestos-related materials. Asbestos on Navy ships was virtually everywhere.

Locations of asbestos on navy ships

Some areas of Navy ships used higher volumes of asbestos than others. Find the risk of asbestos exposure in Navy ships above.

Asbestos could be found in several areas on Navy ships, including:

  • Boiler rooms
  • Bulkheads
  • Deck flooring
  • Engine rooms
  • Gaskets
  • Insulation
  • Pipe lagging
  • Pumps
  • Seals
  • Valves

Navy ships were often poorly ventilated and crowded. This meant asbestos fibers could linger in the air longer and many deckhands and sailors could inhale or ingest them.

Navy Shipyards and Asbestos Exposure

Navy shipyard workers were especially at risk for mesothelioma. Most of the work in shipyards involved the removal and reinstallation of asbestos materials. This released a multitude of asbestos fibers into the air that could be breathed in or swallowed by workers. Anyone working in or walking through the shipyards could have been exposed to the fibers.

Anyone working in a shipyard before the 1980s would have had significant asbestos exposure.

Location of Navy shipyards in US

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The Navy and Secondhand Asbestos Exposure

U.S. Navy veterans were not the only ones at risk of asbestos exposure. Many family and friends of service members were unknowingly exposed to asbestos.

After working in an environment surrounded by asbestos-containing materials, Navy veterans came home with asbestos fibers attached to their clothing, hair, or shoes. These fibers could then be released into their home and inhaled by other people, putting them at risk of mesothelioma.

Individuals who lived near Navy shipyards and bases may also have experienced secondhand asbestos exposure.

VA Benefits for Navy Veterans

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes that U.S. veterans are at a higher risk of mesothelioma. Today, Navy veterans who developed mesothelioma cancer after military asbestos exposure are entitled to military health care benefits and disability compensation through the VA.

To qualify for VA benefits, Navy veterans must have been:

  • Exposed to asbestos while they served
  • Honorably discharged from the Navy
  • Diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease

Types of Navy VA Benefits

Navy veterans can access different types of VA claims depending on their situation. The VA can determine how much compensation is enough to pay for an individual’s basic living expenses and supplemental medical costs.

DID YOU KNOW? Veterans may be eligible for one or more types of compensation. Eligible Navy veterans and their families can apply for compensation through the VA.

Once a Navy veteran’s claim has been filed and accepted, they are eligible to receive financial compensation.

Types of mesothelioma Navy compensation include:

  • Disability Compensation: Veterans can receive guaranteed monthly payments for their mesothelioma or asbestos-related condition.
  • Special Monthly Compensation (SMC): Veterans with special requirements can receive additional monthly payments to cover costs for mesothelioma care and more.
  • VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC): Spouses and dependents can receive guaranteed monthly income if a veteran passes away due to an asbestos-related illness.
  • Additional Special Circumstances: Additional compensation is available for special circumstances that require extra costs.

The VA compensation rate for asbestos-related diseases depends on your specific circumstances. For example, in 2022, the compensation rate for 100% disability is $3,332.06 per month for veterans with no dependents. This rate can increase depending on the number of dependents you have.

Download our free Veterans Compensation Guide today to learn more about applying for VA benefits.

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VA Mesothelioma Treatment Options

Although mesothelioma has a poor prognosis, veterans may be able to extend their life expectancy and improve their prognosis through treatment. Thankfully, many mesothelioma treatment options are available for veterans through the VA.

Navy veterans with mesothelioma may qualify for VA health care benefits. The VA is affiliated with several top mesothelioma specialists, so Navy veterans can access life-extending treatments.

The VA currently has two mesothelioma programs led by specialists in treating pleural mesothelioma.

Top VA mesothelioma doctors include:

Disclaimer: Mesothelioma Hope has no affiliation with and is not endorsed or sponsored by any of the doctors above. The contact information above is listed for informational purposes only. You have the right to contact these mesothelioma specialists directly.

Other VA cancer centers around the country that treat mesothelioma include:

Connect with one of our caring Patient Advocates to learn more about finding a VA-affiliated mesothelioma specialist near you.

File for Navy Mesothelioma VA Benefits

Navy veterans with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease may apply for VA benefits in several ways.

Veterans may apply for VA compensation and health care benefits by:

  • Filing an online application available on the VA website
  • Filing an in-person claim at a VA field office
  • Mailing an application to the correct address
  • Getting help from a VA-accredited claims agent
  • Getting help from an asbestos attorney

Veterans should apply for VA benefits as soon as they have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. This can help them access financial compensation and medical care as soon as possible.

A military mesothelioma lawyer can help gather the right information to file a claim and connect veterans with a VA-accredited claims agent for further assistance.

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Navy veterans have the right to pursue legal compensation through a mesothelioma lawsuit. Mesothelioma lawyers can help veterans collect VA compensation and Navy asbestos settlement compensation from the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products.

Civil claims filed in asbestos cases will not affect a Navy veteran’s VA claim, and the U.S. Navy and other military branches will not be sued. Veterans may be able to get $1 million or more from lawsuits.

Get a free legal consultation from our trusted law firm partner to get started.

Some notable Navy veteran mesothelioma lawsuit settlements include:

  • $4 million for a Navy veteran boiler operator in Kansas
  • $3 million for a Navy veteran telephone technician in California
  • $2.4 million for a Navy veteran millwright in Pennsylvania
  • $1.8 million for a Navy veteran farm machinery worker in Washington

If you or a loved one are a Navy veteran affected by asbestos exposure, download our free Veterans Compensation packet to learn more about financial options.

Mesothelioma and Navy Veterans FAQs

Why do people in the Navy get mesothelioma?

The U.S. Navy used a large amount of asbestos products while building ships, shipyards, bases, and other buildings. This put many Navy veterans and their loved ones at risk of asbestos exposure, leading to diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, and more.

Is mesothelioma a VA disability?

Yes. Because mesothelioma is such an aggressive disease, the VA characterizes mesothelioma as a service-related disability.

If you are a U.S. Navy veteran who developed an asbestos-related disease due to exposure while serving, you may qualify for compensation and health care benefits from the VA.

Does the US Navy still use asbestos?

No. After the dangers of asbestos use became well-known to the general public in the early 1980s, the U.S. Navy stopped using asbestos-containing products. Asbestos was banned on ships shortly after.

How much is a mesothelioma case worth?

Mesothelioma case values can vary depending on the specifics of your case. Factors such as your diagnosis, type of asbestos exposure, total cost of medical expenses, and more can impact how much potential compensation you may win in your case.

The best way to determine how much your case is worth is to speak with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer. Get a free legal consultation from our partner law firm today to get started.

Mesothelioma Hope was founded by a team of passionate health advocates to educate people about this aggressive form of cancer. Mesothelioma affects thousands of people each year. Our team works tirelessly to give hope to those impacted by mesothelioma. Learn more about operating principles and our Editorial Guidelines.

8 References
  1. 2022 Veterans Disability Compensation Rates. Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). Retrieved March 8, 2022, from

  2. Absher, J. (2020, October 07). Asbestos illness related to military service. Retrieved March 8, 2022, from

  3. Department of Veterans Affairs, War Related Illness and Injury Study Center, “Asbestos Fact Sheet”, Retrieved from Accessed on March 8, 2022.

  4. Government and NAVY knowledge regarding … – (n.d.). Retrieved March 8, 2022, from

  5. NH 90738 USS Guam (CB-2), Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, DC

  6. VA health care. (n.d.). Retrieved March 8, 2022, from

  7. Veterans asbestos exposure. (n.d.). Retrieved March 8, 2022, from

  8. Veterans asbestos exposure. (n.d.). Retrieved March 8, 2022, from

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