Mesothelioma and U.S. Navy Veterans

U.S. Navy veterans have a higher risk of developing mesothelioma than those who served in any other military branch. For decades, the U.S. Navy used 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.

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

Asbestos Exposure in the U.S. 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 are at a greater risk of mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

Every 1 in 3 mesothelioma cases stems from U.S. Navy or shipyard asbestos exposure.

The Navy also used asbestos in:

The Navy did not realize that asbestos was dangerous for decades because the makers of asbestos-based products hid the health risks.

Thankfully, military veterans with mesothelioma can file for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to get monthly payouts and free or low-cost health care.

Veterans can also pursue compensation from private mesothelioma claims. Download our Free Veterans Compensation Guide to learn more.

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  • File a VA claim
  • Receive legal compensation

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Navy Ships and Asbestos Exposure Risk

Every U.S. Navy ship built between the 1930s and the early 1980s contained tons of asbestos-related materials. Because of this, asbestos could be found virtually everywhere on U.S. Navy ships.

Locations of asbestos on Navy ships
These locations on U.S. Navy vessels had the highest risks of asbestos exposure.

Aboard Navy ships, asbestos was often used in:

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

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 installation of asbestos materials.

This released 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 the United States

Get our Free Veterans Compensation Guide to see what benefits are available to military families affected by asbestos-related illnesses.

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  • File a VA claim
  • Receive legal compensation

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Navy Jobs With High Risk of Asbestos Exposure

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

Every Navy service member exposed to asbestos while on duty was put 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:

Many of these jobs required Navy veterans to work around asbestos-containing products daily. As the products were damaged or manipulated, they could send asbestos fibers flying into the air.

Navy personnel working around them could inhale the asbestos fibers and develop diseases like mesothelioma decades later.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we can connect you with a specialist who can help. Use our Free Doctor Match to find top specialists for veterans.

The Navy and Secondhand Asbestos Exposure

U.S. Navy veterans were not the only ones at risk of asbestos exposure. The family of service members may have also been exposed to asbestos.

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

U.S. Navy Veterans & Mesothelioma Video Thumbnail

Eric Hall, a veteran and VA-accredited attorney, notes why U.S. Navy veterans could be at risk of mesothelioma and how those affected can get VA benefits. Call us today at (866) 608-8933 to learn more. View Transcript.

Duration: 1 min 01 sec

Military members who served between the 1930s and 1980s were very likely exposed to asbestos, particularly in the Navy because asbestos was used throughout the ships to insulate pipes and insulate their boiler systems.

And being that you were a sailor on a ship, you would’ve likely been on ship for months at any given time. And that’s why we see the highest rate of mesothelioma cases in Navy veterans.

Veterans diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases are entitled to several different types of benefits from the VA, to include disability benefits, health care benefits, there are even survivor benefits for those with asbestos-related diseases.

If a veteran believes they were exposed to asbestos while serving in the military, we encourage them to call Mesothelioma Hope so that we can work together to help them file for VA benefits.

VA Benefits for Mesothelioma Navy Veterans

The 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:

  1. Exposed to asbestos while they served
  2. Honorably discharged from the Navy
  3. Diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease

Types of Mesothelioma Navy VA Benefits

Navy veterans can access different types of VA benefits depending on their diagnosis.

Mesothelioma Navy VA benefits include:

  • Disability Compensation: Veterans can receive guaranteed monthly disability benefits for mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses. For 2023, the VA awards $3,823.89 each month to married veterans with mesothelioma who are 100% disabled. This amount increases if the veteran has dependents.
  • 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 VA DIC payments if a veteran passes away from mesothelioma.
  • VA health care: Navy veterans with mesothelioma may qualify for VA health care benefits. The VA is affiliated with several top mesothelioma specialists who help Navy veterans get life-extending treatments.
  • Other VA benefits: Veterans and their spouses can apply for other VA benefits like pensions, reimbursement for funeral expenses, and more.

Our team can help you apply for these Navy mesothelioma VA benefits and others that you qualify for. Download your Free Veterans Guide to learn more about mesothelioma Navy compensation.

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  • Access $30+ billion in trust funds
  • File a VA claim
  • Receive legal compensation

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VA Mesothelioma Treatment Options

Although mesothelioma has a poor prognosis (health outlook), Navy veterans may be able to extend their life expectancy with treatments. Many mesothelioma treatments and top doctors are available for Navy veterans through the VA Health Care System.

Two well-known VA mesothelioma doctors include:

  • Dr. Robert Cameron

    Dr. Robert Cameron

    Dr. Cameron is a world-renowned oncological surgeon known for his development of the pleurectomy with decortication (P/D) surgery. Dr. Cameron leads the mesothelioma program at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center.

  • Dr. Taylor Ripley

    Dr. Taylor Ripley

    In addition to seeing patients at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Dr. Taylor Ripley works closely with colleagues at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center to treat veterans with mesothelioma.


Mesothelioma Hope has no affiliation with and is not endorsed or sponsored by Dr. Robert B. Cameron. The contact information above is listed for informational purposes only. You have the right to contact Dr. Cameron directly.

Some VA cancer centers that treat mesothelioma include:

We can help you find VA-affiliated mesothelioma specialists and cancer centers near you.
Try our Free Doctor Match today.

File for Navy Mesothelioma VA Benefits

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

Navy veterans can apply for VA benefits by:

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

The Mesothelioma Hope team can help Navy veterans get the right information needed to file a mesothelioma VA claim. Reach out to our Patient Advocates right now at (866) 608-8933 to learn more.

Attorneys can help U.S. Navy veterans with mesothelioma get VA benefits and compensation from makers of asbestos-based products. No legal action will be taken against the U.S. Navy or government.

Learn how lawyers can assist Navy veterans with mesothelioma below.

Accessing VA Benefits

Some mesothelioma lawyers are accredited by the VA to help veterans file for military benefits. Notably, these lawyers can help gather the right information to file a VA claim.

This information can include when, where, and how a veteran was exposed to asbestos while they served — which can be otherwise hard to determine without help.

Taking Legal Action

Attorneys can pursue compensation on a veteran’s behalf with mesothelioma lawsuits. Filing a mesothelioma lawsuit does not affect a veteran’s ability to access VA benefits.

The average mesothelioma lawsuit awards $1-1.4 million in settlements. US Navy mesothelioma verdicts award between $5 million and $11.4 million on average.

Notable lawsuit payouts for Navy veterans include:

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

If the company that manufactured the asbestos-containing product has declared bankruptcy and can no longer be sued, Mesothelioma Navy veterans may also qualify to file claims for asbestos trust fund compensation.

Our partner attorneys can pursue VA benefits and legal payouts for you. Call us now at (866) 608-8933 or download your Free Veterans Compensation Guide to learn more.

Mesothelioma and Navy Veterans FAQs

Why do U.S. Navy veterans get mesothelioma?

The U.S. Navy used a large quantity of asbestos-containing products in its ships, shipyards, bases, and other buildings. Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma.

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.

Does the U.S. Navy still use asbestos?

No, in most cases. After the dangers of asbestos became well known to the public in the early 1980s, the U.S. Navy stopped using it to make new ships.

A major asbestos abatement program was also undertaken to remove or safely seal asbestos-based parts on older U.S. Navy ships.

While a couple of older U.S. Navy ships still have asbestos aboard, it is well-secured and doesn’t pose a threat to human health.

Is mesothelioma a VA disability?

Yes. Because mesothelioma is such an aggressive disease, the VA often considers mesothelioma to be 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.

How much is a mesothelioma case worth?

Mesothelioma case values can vary due to factors like which asbestos-based products you were exposed to, the total cost of your medical expenses, and more.

The best way to learn how much your case is worth is to speak with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer.

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 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.

  1. Absher, J. (2020, October 07). Asbestos illness related to military service. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from

  2. Battaile, J. (n.d.). A life-saving mineral, once compulsory, is now nearly prohibited. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from

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

  4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, November 29). 2023 veterans disability compensation rates. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from

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