Asbestos Exposure in Marine Corps Veterans
The United States Marine Corps is the smallest segment of the U.S. military, officially falling under the Department of the Navy within the Defense Department. However, it operates as an individual amphibious and expeditionary fighting force. Though the Marines were a smaller force, these fighting women and men faced similar asbestos hazards as their Navy, Army and Air Force counterparts did.
For 5 decades from the late 1930s to the mid-1980s, asbestos was a prime material for constructing Marine vessels, aircraft and vehicles, as well as Marine base buildings. Finally, concerns about asbestos health hazards overtook the need for ACM products, and the Marine Corps phased out asbestos use.
Tragically, by the time the USMC took action for abatement and prevention, many Marine veterans had a long history of asbestos exposure. Some vets experienced higher asbestos amounts and longer exposure durations than other Marines, depending on their service duties and type of asbestos material they handled. Many veterans had no idea they faced serious health issues as effects from asbestos have a latency period of 10-50 years for mesothelioma symptoms to appear. And for many marine corps vets, the damage was already done.
High-Risk Asbestos Exposure Areas in the U.S. Marines
The Marine slogan says they go on land, sea and air. That sums up the broad operating threat range Marines deployed in. However, in each area, they depended on asbestos products to serve their safety and comfort. Asbestos was once considered a miracle material for fireproofing, sound suppression and thermal insulation. Asbestos made products strong, lightweight and rust-resistant. It was also easy to work with, cheap and widely available.
Products made with ACM appeared everywhere in a Marine veteran’s working environment. ACMs also made up their eating and sleeping surroundings, making it impossible for these Marine vets to avoid exposure.
These were the highest-risk exposure areas for USMC veterans:
- Vessels: Marine vessels used asbestos for fire-resistance, sound-deadening and insulation. Landing craft and aircraft carriers used asbestos extensively, especially in engine, boiler and propulsion rooms. Galleys and berths also had asbestos protection. Marines often traveled in Navy vessels with the same exposure hazards.
- Aircraft: The USMC employed hundreds of tactical and transport aircraft. These planes also used asbestos for many reasons, including high-friction applications like brakes. Aircraft mechanics had high exposure from burned brake lining dust and engine insulation and gaskets.
- Vehicles: Marine trucks, dozers, armored personnel carriers and jeeps all used asbestos products. The 1950s M60 Patton tank was full of asbestos protection, keeping the crews in constant asbestos exposure. Vehicle mechanics also faced high asbestos hazards.
- Buildings: Marine bases and shipyard repair facilities commonly used ACM construction materials. Roof shingles, floor and ceiling tiles, wallboard and brick mortar were asbestos-based. Carpenters, masons, drywallers and insulators all faced toxic asbestos exposure in Marine buildings.
Mesothelioma Justice Network Brief
Many Marine veterans exposed to airborne asbestos fibers eventually developed life-threatening diseases from service-related duties. Marine vets are still diagnosed with mesothelioma years after they retired from active service or had their last on-duty exposure to asbestos particles. Fortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes asbestos exposure as a duty-related ailment and compensates veterans who have since developed mesothelioma.
Compensation and Benefits for United States Marine Corps Veterans
United States Marine Corps veterans receive benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Benefits and healthcare compensation are entitlements for Marine Corps who honorably served their country.
However, the 2 main eligibility requirements are:
- Honorable Discharge: Applying veterans must have an honorable discharge (dishonorable discharges do not qualify).
- Disability During Active Duty: Your disability was the result of active-duty injury, including latent disease like mesothelioma.
Marine Corps veterans are eligible for the following types of compensation through the VA:
- Disability Compensation: Disabled veterans can receive monthly guaranteed payments as compensation for their disability.
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC): When veterans pass away due to their active-duty injuries or illnesses, their spouses can receive a guaranteed monthly income as well.
- Special Monthly Compensation (SMC): If Marine veterans have certain special medical requirements, they can receive compensation to cover these costs.
- Additional Special Circumstances: For special circumstances, Marine veterans can receive additional compensation for these costs.
Marine Veterans Benefit Claim Types
Marine vets often face a variety of disability types.
Some of the claims Marine Corps veterans can file include:
- Pre-Discharge Claims: If you have a disability that the Marine Corps already knew about, then you can make a pre-discharge claim within 180 days of being discharged.
- Pre-Service Claims: If you are a Marine veteran who joined with a pre-existing condition that worsened due to active-duty reasons, you can file a pre-service claim.
- In-Service Claims: For Marine veterans who suffered an injury or illness during active duty and can still serve, you can file an in-service claim.
- Post-Service Claims: Marine veterans who develop an illness after being honorably discharged, can file a post-service claim. This is the claim type that most veterans with mesothelioma will file.
- Special Claims: In unique circumstances, Marine veterans will need to file a special claim when their situation doesn’t fall under one of the above claim types.
Other VA Healthcare Benefits for Marine Veterans
The Department of Veteran Affairs helps ensure that Marine Corps veterans and their families get the long-term care and support they need.
Therefore, the VA offers Marine vets extended benefits such as:
- Disability Pensions
- Preventive Healthcare Services
- Personal Health Programs
- Education and Training
- Home Loans
- Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment
- Mental Health Assistance and Counseling
- Survivors Benefits
- Burial and Memorial Services
United States Marine Corps veterans who have developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease due to their asbestos exposure during active duty can file a VA benefits claims.
Marine Corps veterans have a few options for filing VA benefits claims, including:
- An online application on the VA website
- A VA field office
- An accredited third-party representative
- A specialized law firm to file claims on your behalf
USMC veterans have additional mesothelioma compensation options. Like civilian victims, Marine veterans can file lawsuits against negligent asbestos companies. Civilian lawsuits don’t affect any compensation amounts you receive through the VA, and all Marine vets remain eligible to file VA claims regardless of the types of claims they file privately.
For more information on filing VA or personal injury claims, contact our Justice Support Team today.