Mesothelioma and Navy Veterans

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

Asbestos Exposure in the Navy

Veterans that 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, they 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

navy mechanic in submarineSince the Navy was one of the largest consumers of asbestos-containing products, many Navy veterans were unable to avoid asbestos exposure while serving our country.

Every Navy veteran that was 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 on a daily basis. 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.

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Navy Shipyards

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 even walking through the shipyards could have been exposed to the fibers.

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

Location of Navy shipyards in US

Secondhand Asbestos Exposure From the Navy

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 would come home with asbestos fibers attached to their clothing, hair, or shoes.

These fibers could then be released into their home and become inhaled by other people, putting them at risk of mesothelioma.

Individuals that lived in close proximity to Navy shipyards and bases may also have experienced secondhand asbestos exposure.

VA Benefits for Navy Veterans

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

In order to qualify for VA benefits, Navy veterans must have:

  • Been exposed to asbestos while they served
  • Been honorably discharged from the Navy
  • Been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease

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

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.
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  • Access $30 Billion in trust funds
  • File a VA claim
  • Receive legal compensation

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VA Mesothelioma Health Care and Treatments

Although mesothelioma has a poor prognosis, veterans may be able to extend their life expectancy and improve their prognosis through treatment. Thankfully, there are many mesothelioma treatment options 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 have access to 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 Dr. Robert B. Cameron. The contact information above is listed for informational purposes only. You have the right to contact Dr. Cameron directly.

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

Contact us to learn more about finding a VA-affiliated mesothelioma specialist near you.

Filing 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 a mesothelioma lawyer

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.

Legal Help for Navy Veterans with Mesothelioma

Navy veterans have the right to pursue legal compensation through a mesothelioma lawsuit.

Mesothelioma lawyers can help veterans collect VA compensation and 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. — the U.S. Navy and other military branches will not be sued. Veterans may be able to get $1 million or more from lawsuits.

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

When did the Navy stop using asbestos?

The Navy stopped using asbestos in the early 1980s when the dangers of asbestos became widely known to the public. The military undertook a massive abatement plan throughout the 1980s, removing dangerous asbestos from most of its bases, ships, and vehicles.

That said, many veterans who served on ships built before the 1980s may have been exposed to asbestos.

Where did the Navy use asbestos?

The Navy used asbestos-containing materials in many ships, shipyards, bases, buildings, vehicles, and other areas. The Navy used more asbestos-containing materials than any other branch of the military.

The abundance of asbestos-containing materials used on Navy military bases put many veterans at risk of developing mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases.

What should I do if I was exposed to asbestos while serving in the Navy?

If you believe you were exposed to asbestos while serving in the Navy, look out for any possible mesothelioma symptoms. Consult with your doctor if you start to experience a dry cough, chest pain, or shortness of breath. Early detection can ensure you get timely treatment.

Am I eligible for financial compensation if I developed mesothelioma from asbestos exposure while serving?

You may be eligible for several compensation options if you developed an asbestos-related disease that stems from military service. Navy veterans with mesothelioma may qualify for compensation from VA claims, mesothelioma lawsuits, and asbestos trust funds.

Contact us today to learn more about qualifying for financial compensation.

Mesothelioma Hope was founded by a team of advocates to educate people about this aggressive form of cancer. Mesothelioma affects thousands of people each year. We help give hope to those impacted by mesothelioma.

7 references
  1. Absher, J. (2020, October 07). Asbestos illness related to military service. Retrieved July 21, 2021, from
  2. Department of Veterans Affairs, War Related Illness and Injury Study Center, “Asbestos Fact Sheet”, Retrieved from Accessed on July 21, 2021.
  3. Government and NAVY knowledge regarding ... - (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2021, from
  4. NH 90738 USS Guam (CB-2), Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, DC
  5. VA health care. (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2021, from
  6. Veterans asbestos exposure. (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2021, from
  7. Veterans asbestos exposure. (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2021, from

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