Mesothelioma and Veterans

Over 30% of people diagnosed with mesothelioma are United States military veterans. Every branch of the Armed Forces relied on asbestos for decades, not knowing it could cause mesothelioma and other deadly diseases. Today, veterans with mesothelioma can file for VA benefits and legal compensation.

Understand Your Legal Options

Veterans and Asbestos Exposure

U.S. veterans are at an especially high risk of mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Every branch of the military relied on asbestos from the 1930s to the early 1980s because the mineral was cheap and resistant to fire and heat.

Asbestos-containing products could be found in military:

  • Aircraft
  • Bases
  • Equipment
  • Ships
  • Vehicles

The military was unaware of the dangers of asbestos because manufacturers disclosed this information from the government, private industries, and the general public.

Due to these manufacturers’ wrongdoing, you may be eligible for VA benefits and other forms of compensation if you developed mesothelioma as a result of your active duty.

Mesothelioma Veterans Benefits

With benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), you may be able to receive low-cost mesothelioma treatments and monthly financial payments.

Below, get information on top VA benefits.

VA Disability Compensation

Disability compensation provides former service members with money each month to cover basic living expenses and medical care costs. You don’t have to pay taxes on disability compensation, and it is not affected by your income level or employment history.

Because mesothelioma has a 100% disability rating from the VA, you may qualify for the maximum amount of compensation from a disability claim if you were diagnosed with this cancer due to service-related asbestos exposure.

VA Pension

A VA pension is a monthly payment available if you served during wartime and your income falls under a set limit. VA pension pays the difference between your current income and the maximum pension rate set by Congress.

As of December 1, 2019, your net worth must be under $129,094 to receive a pension. If you are married, your spouse’s income also counts towards this net amount.

Our team of Patient Advocates and VA-accredited attorneys can help determine if you may qualify for VA pension. Contact us today.

Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)

Paid in addition to regular disability benefits, SMC may be available if you have a disability that requires medical care from someone else. The VA considers mesothelioma to be a total disability, meaning you may qualify for SMC.

VA Health Care for Mesothelioma Treatment

With the VA Health Care System, you can access both traditional treatments and clinical trials that test new therapies — at little to no cost. The VA offers mesothelioma treatments at several hospitals throughout the country.

VA Hospitals for Mesothelioma

Three medical facilities currently offer specialized treatment options for mesothelioma, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Learn more about these VA mesothelioma hospitals below.

You may also be able to access non-VA mesothelioma doctors and treatments thanks to the MISSION act. This act expanded VA Health Care coverage in 2019 to include approved local providers.

How to File a Mesothelioma VA Benefits Claim

To file a VA claim, you must fill out documents that show how your mesothelioma stems from military service and why you need specific benefits.

You may need the following to file a VA benefits claim:

  • Proof of honorable discharge
  • Medical records that confirm you have mesothelioma
  • Evidence linking military service to asbestos exposure (like military job history)
  • A doctor’s statement that notes asbestos caused you to develop your cancer

You may not remember how, when, or where you were exposed to asbestos, but an experienced and VA-accredited attorney can help you gather this information and file your claim.

Lawyer Avatar Find a Mesothelioma Lawyer Near You
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington DC
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
Top Mesothelioma Lawyer found in
Simmons Hanly Conroy
We will connect you with Simmons Hanly Conroy

Secure Submission

We respect your privacy. By submitting, you agree to our privacy policy and terms of use.

Which Military Branches Used Asbestos?

All branches of the U.S. Armed Forces used asbestos until the 1980s, but some veterans had a higher risk of exposure than others. Learn how each branch of the U.S. military used asbestos and which jobs carried the most danger.

Asbestos Exposure in the Navy

Almost every Navy ship built between the 1930s and the late 1970s used asbestos-containing products due to a government mandate. It was believed asbestos could safely protect ships from fire and corrosion. As a result, U.S. Navy veterans had the highest risk of exposure.

Navy ships were often cramped and poorly ventilated, making it almost impossible to escape asbestos exposure. Engine rooms and boiler rooms were particularly dangerous for asbestos exposure.

“I served in the Navy for twenty years. I always knew that there was asbestos. And when I went aboard ship, that’s when I found out that it was asbestos in the products. Nobody ever said anything about it being dangerous.”

– Walter T., U.S. Navy Veteran and Mesothelioma Patient

Some Navy Sailors worked directly with asbestos-containing products like pipes, boilers, and gaskets, putting them at even greater danger.

Navy jobs with a high risk of asbestos exposure included:

  • Boilermakers
  • Construction workers
  • Engine mates
  • Machinist’s mates

Navy Sailors who worked in shipyards also had a high risk of exposure since they built and repaired ships with asbestos-based products every day. This work sent asbestos fibers into the air around them where the fibers could easily be inhaled.

Asbestos Exposure in the Air Force

U.S. Air Force veterans who regularly worked on planes ran a high risk of asbestos exposure, as asbestos-containing parts were used to keep aircraft from catching on fire.

Asbestos-containing products used by the Air Force included:

  • Brake pads
  • Cockpit and engine insulation
  • Fireproofing materials
  • Gaskets
  • Paint
  • Sealants

Pilots, mechanics, and crew members like gunners all may have been frequently exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos Exposure in the Army

Asbestos could be found in Army vehicle parts like gaskets and construction materials like insulation and paint. While anyone who spent time in Army vehicles or bases may have been exposed, some U.S. Army veterans came in contact with the dangerous mineral every day.

Army jobs with a high risk of asbestos exposure included:

  • Construction workers
  • Firefighters
  • Electricians
  • Mechanics
  • Pipefitters

Asbestos Exposure in the Coast Guard

Much like the Navy, the Coast Guard heavily relied on asbestos-containing products to build their ships. Those who worked on ships or in Coast Guard shipyards had a very high risk of exposure as a result.

Other high-risk Coast Guard jobs included:

  • Boilermakers
  • Insulators
  • Electricians
  • Pipefitters

These jobs put U.S. Coast Guard veterans in contact with asbestos every day, increasing their risk of mesothelioma.

Asbestos Exposure in the Marine Corps

The Marine Corps worked alongside other branches of the Armed Forces but also operated on its own. Because of this, there were many ways that Marine veterans could have come in contact with asbestos.

Marines may have been exposed to asbestos from:

  • Bases and living quarters
  • Air Force planes
  • Navy ships
  • Vehicles

U.S. Marine Corps veterans were at particularly high risk if they served tours of duty on Navy ships.

Secondhand Asbestos Exposure in Military Families

Family members who lived on military bases were at risk of secondhand asbestos exposure. For example, if a military member got asbestos dust on their clothes and returned home, the fibers could enter the air that their loved ones breathed in.

Modern-Day Military Asbestos Exposure

Although the military removed literal tons of asbestos from its buildings, vehicles, and ships in the 1980s, some service members may still be at risk even today. For example, Soldiers currently serving can be exposed from building explosions in the Middle East since many structures in this area still contain asbestos.

Asbestos Exposure After the Military

Like the military, private industries also used asbestos widely in the 20th century, meaning both civilians and former service members may have been exposed while working in a blue-collar occupation.

Jobs with a high risk of asbestos exposure include:

  • Automotive Workers
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Factory Workers
  • Firefighters
  • Miners
  • Plumbers
  • Railroad Workers
  • Roofers
  • Teachers
  • Welders

Like the military, your former employer is not to blame in most cases — manufacturers of asbestos products caused and likely could have prevented your illness.

Common Questions About Veterans and Mesothelioma

You may still have questions about military asbestos use and your options after a mesothelioma diagnosis. Here are some common questions and answers.

Does the military still use asbestos?

The U.S. military no longer uses asbestos to make new assets, but some older buildings and ships may contain asbestos even today.

In 2019, it was reported that over 200 homes at Tinker Air Force Base had damaged asbestos products like floor tiles, putting residents at risk of exposure. A private company was managing the homes on the Air Force’s behalf and failed to quickly address the concerns of residents.

Is filing a VA mesothelioma claim easy?

Working with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer is the most effective way to make the VA claims process simple and hassle-free. These lawyers have databases of information about the asbestos industry they can use to build and strengthen your claim.

From there, a VA claims agent can help you file without any errors. You can file for VA benefits at a local veterans office, online, over the phone, or through the mail.

Are my VA benefits taxable?

Some VA benefits are taxable while others are not. For example, VA disability compensation will not be taxed, but standard military retirement pay is taxable. Talk to a VA-accredited lawyer to learn how you may be taxed.

Does the VA provide benefits for other asbestos-related diseases?

Yes. Mesothelioma is not the only disease that stems from asbestos exposure, so the VA offers compensation and treatment for other asbestos-related illnesses.

You may qualify for VA benefits if you have:

  • Asbestosis
  • Lung cancer
  • Pleural plaques

You’ll need to prove you were exposed to asbestos — just like veterans with mesothelioma do — in order to get VA benefits.

File For Mesothelioma VA Benefits and Compensation

If you are a veteran with mesothelioma, don’t wait to file for VA benefits and other types of compensation. You served your country with pride, so you deserve prompt medical care and payments if you get sick.

Outside of VA benefits, you can work with a lawyer to pursue compensation through mesothelioma lawsuits and asbestos trust fund claims. If you choose these options, you won’t take legal action against the U.S. military or your former employers.

Assistance is available to you if you’d like to file for VA benefits or other types of financial compensation. Get a free case review today.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Stephanie KiddWritten by:

Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie Kidd grew up in a family of civil servants, blue-collar workers, and medical caregivers. Upon graduating Summa Cum Laude from Stetson University, she began her career specializing in worker safety regulations and communications. Now, a proud member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Cancer Network, Stephanie serves as a voice for mesothelioma victims and their families.

View 13 Sources
  1. Benefits.gov. (n.d.). Survivors' Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Retrieved March 11, 2020, from https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/290
  2. Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. (2019, November). Mesothelioma Program at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston, Texas. Retrieved August 26, 2020, from https://www.curemeso.org/get-involved/attend-conferences-and-events/meet-the-mesothelioma-experts-podcast-broadcast-series/mesothelioma-program-at-veterans-affairs-medical-center-in-houston-texas/
  3. Pell, M. (2019, June 18). U.S. Air Force landlord falsified records to boost income: Documents. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-military-maintenance/
  4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2014, December 8). VA Boston Healthcare System: Asbestos and Mesothelioma. Retrieved March 11, 2020, from https://www.boston.va.gov/services/surgical/Asbestos_and_Mesothelioma.asp
  5. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2019, August 8). Eligibility for Veterans Pension. Retrieved March 11, 2020, from https://www.va.gov/pension/eligibility/
  6. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2019, November 1). 2019 VA special monthly compensation rates. Retrieved March 11, 2020, from https://www.va.gov/disability/compensation-rates/special-monthly-compensation-rates/
  7. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2019, September 27). Veterans asbestos exposure. Retrieved March 11, 2020, from https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/asbestos/
  8. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, February 10). About VA DIC for spouses, dependents, and parents. Retrieved March 11, 2020, from https://www.va.gov/disability/dependency-indemnity-compensation/
  9. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, February 7). 2020 VA DIC rates for spouses and dependents. Retrieved March 11, 2020, from https://www.va.gov/disability/survivor-dic-rates/
  10. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2019, August 8). VA health care and other insurance. Retrieved March 19, 2020, from https://www.va.gov/health-care/about-va-health-benefits/va-health-care-and-other-insurance/
  11. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, March 9). VA pension benefits. Retrieved March 11, 2020, from https://www.va.gov/pension/#get-va-pension-benefits
  12. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2013, December 06). Public Health: Asbestos. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/asbestos/
  13. Wentling, N. (2018, December 4). Whistleblower who says he was forced to retire as VA surgeon is temporarily reinstated. Retrieved March 11, 2020, from https://www.stripes.com/news/whistleblower-who-says-he-was-forced-to-retire-as-va-surgeon-is-temporarily-reinstated-1.559260
Back to Top