From the 1930s to the late 1970s, asbestos was heavily used by the U.S. military for insulation and fireproofing. The use of asbestos in eating, living, and working quarters exposed millions of service members to asbestos. Benefits are available for veterans whose mesothelioma is service related, but proving this can be difficult. We can help.
Mesothelioma Help Center provides information about mesothelioma diagnosis, treatment, and financial and legal assistance. On this site you can learn about asbestos exposure and the different types of mesothelioma, connect with local mesothelioma medical experts, and find ways to pay for treatment.
Military Asbestos Use: A Deadly Legacy
For much of the 20th century, the military explicitly required the use of asbestos due to its extreme effectiveness as an insulator and a fireproofing material. While asbestos was used in all branches of the military, the Navy in particular prioritized asbestos as a shipbuilding material, using hundreds of asbestos containing products in ships and shipyards. A single navy ship from the World War II era had roughly 30 to 500 tons of asbestos insulation.
Navy veterans have the highest risk of any armed service branch of developing mesothelioma, but veterans in general are a very at-risk group. Veterans represent about one-third of all mesothelioma deaths in this country.
Since it can take 20 to 50 years for mesothelioma to manifest, even if you retired from active duty decades ago, you may only now be showing disease symptoms.
How Veterans Were Exposed to Asbestos
The ubiquity of asbestos products in the military means that veterans were exposed to asbestos in myriad ways. The barracks where service members slept, the mess halls where they ate, the places where they worked, the vehicles that transported them, and the products they handled may have contained asbestos.
Asbestos is most dangerous when it is disturbed and released into the air, where the fibers can be inhaled and ingested. For this reason, certain occupations were at high risk for exposure to asbestos, including:
- Shipyard work
- Insulation work
- Electrical work
- Boiler and HVAC technicians
- Demolition of old buildings
- Carpentry and construction
- Manufacturing and installation of flooring, roofing, and other asbestos products
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also notes that veterans who served in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries may have been exposed to asbestos from older buildings that were damaged. Although the military stopped using asbestos in new construction in the late 1970s, asbestos-containing products remained in place for decades afterward and continued to expose soldiers.
Types of Veteran Mesothelioma Benefits
There is no shortage of ways that military veterans may have been exposed to asbestos. The difficult part can be satisfying the so-called “nexus requirement,” or providing evidence that your mesothelioma is connected to asbestos exposure that occurred during your military service. When applying for veterans benefits, it is helpful to have expert legal assistance.
The VA offers several types of benefits to veterans whose mesothelioma is service-related. Benefits are also available for veterans’ spouses and dependents. Veterans may have to apply separately for different types of benefits.
- Disability Compensation: VA disability compensation is a monthly benefit paid to veterans with a disease or disability related to their military service. Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma are eligible to apply for disability compensation, but they must prove that their disease is related to asbestos exposure that occurred during active duty.
- Health Benefits: All veterans who were separated under any condition other than dishonorable may qualify for VA health care benefits. Qualified veterans can receive treatment at VA facilities at no cost to them. The VA system includes centers that specialize in mesothelioma treatment. If one of these centers is far from you, you may be able to receive private treatment through the Veterans Choice Program. Veterans can also receive transportation assistance to and from VA facilities.
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: Surviving dependents and spouses of veterans who died of service-related mesothelioma can file for a monthly benefit called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). DIC applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements and provide evidence to support their claim.
- Aid & Attendance Allowance: Veterans who are eligible for a VA pension and require the aid and attendance of another person, or are housebound, may be eligible for allowances that increase their pension amount. Certain conditions and evidence requirements must be met to quality for the additional monthly payment.
Help For Veterans With Mesothelioma
Although VA benefits are available to veterans with mesothelioma, the claims process can be lengthy and complex, and failure to properly document all evidence requirements could deprive you of much-needed compensation and services. Working with a veterans’ benefits attorney can improve the chances of your claim getting approved.
Whether you need help filing an initial VA claim, appealing a denied claim, appealing an insufficient benefits award, or just have questions about a potential claim, Mesothelioma Help Center can connect you with experienced attorneys that are dedicated to helping veterans qualify for benefits.