United States veterans account for nearly 30 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses. Of all the branches, the Navy was the largest consumer of asbestos-containing products. For this reason, Navy veterans face the highest risk of developing the disease.
Asbestos, a mineral known for its durable, fire-resistant nature, was used in nearly every aspect of the Navy. It was relied upon as insulation and used to prevent fires on Navy ships and submarines.
When asbestos is disturbed, its tiny fibers become airborne and can enter the body with no way of being expelled. Over time, this can cause severe damage to the mesothelium, the tissue that lines the organs of the chest and abdomen.
The Navy’s surgeon general released a report in 1939 connecting asbestos with debilitating lung conditions such as asbestosis. However, though asbestos was already a known carcinogen, asbestos manufacturers continued distributing it to the military, and its usage persisted.
Navy Veterans and Asbestos Exposure: Where Was I Exposed?
Asbestos was used in military weapons, on bases, and in vehicles. It was primarily used in insulation and could be found in pipes and motors, flooring, and walls. It was especially prevalent in rooms that required extra insulation, such as boiler rooms, engine rooms, and weapons storage areas. It was even used in mess halls and sleeping areas. Coupled with poor ventilation, asbestos was an unknown but near-constant threat, putting thousands of service men and women at risk.
The Navy was also extremely reliant on asbestos for fire prevention onboard ships and subs. As a result, boilermakers and shipyard workers faced the highest amount of exposure. However, the abundant use of asbestos put all Navy personnel at risk, even those in administrative roles.
Navy roles at risk of asbestos exposure
- Aviation machinist mates
- Boiler technicians
- Damage controlmen
- Electrician’s mates
- Gunner’s mates
- Hull maintenance technicians
- Machinery repair technicians
Occupations at risk of asbestos exposure
Many veterans went on to hold jobs that further exposed them to asbestos after their time in the service. This potentially prolonged their exposure to asbestos, since the material was also used extensively in factories and in the construction and automotive industries.
- Automotive mechanics
- Cement layers
- Construction workers
- Demolition crews
- HVAC technicians
- Insulation installers
Speak with your doctor right away if you think you may have been exposed to asbestos, either during or after your military service. Early detection can significantly improve your prognosis.
How Do I Know If I Have Mesothelioma? What Are The Symptoms?
Mesothelioma is known for having an extremely long latency period, meaning the time between exposure and the onset of symptoms. The disease can take between 10 and 60 years to develop and show up in victims. If you are exhibiting any symptoms, speak with your doctor right away and inform them of your potential work history around asbestos.
Symptoms of mesothelioma
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
- Painful, persistent cough
VA Health Care for Treating Mesothelioma
There are several programs in place that seek to match veterans with affordable treatment. Renowned mesothelioma experts Dr. Robert Cameron and Dr. Abraham (Avi) Lebenthal are both participants in the VA Health Care Program providing treatment to veterans.
Dr. Cameron serves as the chief of thoracic surgery at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. The facility has partnered with UCLA’s Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program to provide veterans with surgery and other treatments geared toward improving their quality of life.
Dr. Lebenthal, based out of the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, serves as the head of thoracic surgery at the VA Boston Healthcare System, another facility designed to serve veterans.
Veterans Benefits and VA Claims
It is highly recommended that you work with an experienced VA claims specialist when filing a claim for VA benefits related to mesothelioma. Documents you will likely need to produce in order to qualify for compensation include:
- Medical records stating your illness or disability
- Service records listing your job or area of expertise
- Documentation of your doctor linking asbestos exposure during your time in the military to your disability
If you need assistance applying for veterans benefits or filing a VA claim, call our Mesothelioma Hotline number below. A member of our advocacy team will be happy to guide you through the process.
Filing an Asbestos Lawsuit
Many brave heroes already risked their lives once while serving in the military. Sadly, their lives are still at risk of mesothelioma or other asbestos-caused conditions. If you are a victim, please let us help you. In addition to filing for veterans benefits, veterans may also seek compensation by taking legal action.
Mesothelioma lawsuits are filed against asbestos companies or trusts, not against the U.S. military or government.
Veterans and victims of mesothelioma are entitled to compensation. An attorney will be able to guide you through the process of suing the asbestos companies and manufacturers responsible. Call the Mesothelioma Hotline number below to speak with a member of our team, or request a free case evaluation online. We understand what you’re going through and can connect you with an experienced asbestos attorney who will be able to help get you the compensation you deserve.