Veterans & Mesothelioma

Veterans from all branches of the military face the risk of developing mesothelioma, a deadly disease caused by exposure to asbestos while serving their country.

Key Points

  • 1

    About 30% of mesothelioma diagnoses occur among veterans.

  • 2

    Navy veterans are the most at risk group of developing mesothelioma.

  • 3

    Asbestos was used most heavily in the armed services between the 1930s through the late 1970s, particularly during World War II.

  • 4

    Veterans with mesothelioma have options to help them pay for medical expenses.

Due to it’s fire-resistant and durable qualities, asbestos was a common material used in the military, most heavily used between the 1930s and the 1970s. As a result, many veterans have been diagnosed with mesothelioma.

30% of mesothelioma diagnoses are military veterans

With a latency period of 10–50 years, mesothelioma symptoms are emerging more and more in veterans, leading to a series of present-day diagnoses and causing veterans to seek compensation for their suffering.

Mesothelioma in Veterans

Shipyards have drawn attention with shipyard workers that were at high risk for developing mesothelioma, repairing and breaking down asbestos-containing products, releasing microscopic asbestos fibers into the air. In many cases, they also had no protective gear. However, all members of all military branches have faced exposure to asbestos throughout their years of service.

Common Sources of Military Asbestos Exposure
  • Machinery rooms
  • Boiler rooms/engine rooms
  • Military sleeping quarters/barracks
  • Ammunition storage rooms
  • Mess halls
  • Military vehicles
  • Training Facilities
  • Aircrafts

Mesothelioma Navy Veterans

The service members at highest risk for asbestos exposure were United States Navy personnel, particularly those working below decks and in naval submarines. Asbestos was used throughout ships and submarines for insulation and fireproofing, and U.S. Navy veterans were living and working in tight quarters that had poor ventilation, making any airborne asbestos fibers more concentrated. Pipes, valves, pumps, seals, berthing, deck flooring and other navy ship equipment was all known to contain asbestos.

Compensation for Mesothelioma Veterans

Wrongful exposure to asbestos materials is a growing issue as more and more veterans are diagnosed with asbestos illnesses, such as mesothelioma. Compensation is available to those that served in the military that are now facing a disease that is deadly and costly after wrongful asbestos use. Treatment costs, loss of income and other financial burdens add up, but help may be available through the following options:

Of the avenues listed above, VA claims are the most common option chosen by veterans seeking compensation.

Filing A Veteran Claim

Individuals that served in the military, or their loved ones, may qualify for compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA offers a variety of tax-free monetary VA benefits. Disability Compensation is offered to veterans who have a disability, such as mesothelioma, as a result of their time in service. A surviving spouse, child, or parent can also receive benefits through Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), which can be received if the veteran died in active duty, in training, or due to a service-related disability.

Eligibility Requirements for a VA Claim
  • Discharged under any condition other than dishonorable
  • Exposure to asbestos during your years of service
  • Medical documentation of diagnosis with a connection to exposure during service

Types of Veteran Claims for Mesothelioma Patients

If eligible to seek out disability compensation through a VA claim, there are several kinds of claims that victims and their loved ones can pursue. For mesothelioma patients, this claim is typically a Post-Service Disabilities claim, covering exposure to hazardous materials, like asbestos.

Before filing, individuals should have the following documentation to properly start the process:

  • Proof of asbestos exposure during service (could be a form of service records documenting military occupation or location of service)
  • Medical evidence of diagnosis that can be connected to asbestos exposure during time of service

There are many steps to filing a claim, from first gathering evidence of exposure and diagnosis to receiving compensation.

Process for Filing a VA Claim
1. Submit

Send in your claim either online, at a VA office, through standard mail or with an accredited representative.

2. Review

A Veterans Service Representative reviews your claim and ensures there is no further evidence needed.

3. Decision

After all of the evidence is received and reviewed, the representative will recommend a decision on your claim and prepare documentation on their decision.

4. Award

The recommended decision is reviewed and a final award decision is made. In some cases, the claim might be sent back for more evidence and further review.

5. Receipt

A claim decision packet will be prepared and sent to you by mail from the VA.

Asbestos exposure alone cannot be the sole reason an individual files for a VA claim – the person filing, or loved one, must have evidence of being diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. If you or a loved one feel that you might qualify, or have questions about your eligibility, connect with an experienced lawyer. They will be able to help you better understand your options, collect the right evidence and move through the filing process

Additional Resources for Mesothelioma Veterans

In addition to seeking financial help, veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma may seek specialized treatment from a variety of health centers, including the following:

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Written By Tonya Nelson Tonya Nelson

Tonya Nelson is an experienced writer and editor, who has published on a wide variety of topics, particularly in the health field. Her bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University sparked her curiosity for writing stories about environmental and medical issues. As the Managing Editor, Tonya oversees the content development process, ensuring every article and informational page published adheres to MAA Center’s editorial guidelines.