Written By: Devin Golden

Mesothelioma and the Army

The U.S. Army, like all branches of the military, has a history of using asbestos in various applications. Asbestos was prized for its heat and fire-resistant properties, making it a common material for the construction of Army buildings and insulation of vehicle components. However, the extensive use of asbestos in the military has left a lasting impact, as many veterans are still being diagnosed with mesothelioma, decades later, due to their Army asbestos exposure.

Retired LCDR Carl Jewett

Reviewed By

Retired LCDR Carl Jewett

VA-Accredited Claims Agent

Retired LCDR Carl Jewett

Reviewed By

Retired LCDR Carl Jewett

VA-Accredited Claims Agent


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Important Facts About Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure for Army Veterans

  • Asbestos exposure is a serious concern, as it is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer.
  • According to data from the Boston VA health care system, U.S. Army veterans make up the second-highest number of mesothelioma cases among veterans.
  • According to data from the Boston VA health care system, U.S. Army veterans make up the second-highest number of mesothelioma cases among veterans.
  • Army veterans are eligible for VA benefits, including monthly disability compensation and free health insurance.

Rates of Mesothelioma Among Army Veterans

The U.S. Army has the most members of all military branches, with nearly 500,000 active-duty soldiers. Army veterans account for a large percentage of the approximately 18 million military veterans alive today.

U.S. military operations required asbestos-containing materials in various capacities due to the heat-resistant and durable qualities of the substance. While asbestos exposure was a widespread issue across all military branches, Army veterans make up a significant portion of veterans with mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer caused only by asbestos exposure. Although asbestos was valued for its durability and fire resistance, it is fragile when disturbed, often resulting in microscopic asbestos fibers entering the air. When asbestos fibers break apart from the source, they can be easily inhaled or ingested, which can cause mesothelioma to form decades later.

Veterans make up nearly one-third of all mesothelioma cases in the United States, and Army veterans account for a significant portion. A mesothelioma diagnosis is devastating and often comes with a challenging prognosis – a painful reminder of the dangers of asbestos.

Between 2011 and 2016, the Boston VA healthcare system treated 16 Army veterans with mesothelioma, which was around 30% of all veteran’s cases. The Navy was the only branch with more mesothelioma cases (28 cases, 50%).

How Was Asbestos Used in the Army?

Like many other military branches, the U.S. Army used asbestos for its durability and resistance to heat, fire and corrosion. Some of the ways in which the Army used asbestos include insulation, vehicle and aircraft components, fireproof clothing, and construction of barracks and military buildings built before the restrictions on asbestos.

Some of the specific uses of asbestos in the Army include:

  • Insulation – Throughout military buildings and vehicles to protect against extreme temperatures, which was especially important for military equipment
  • Brake linings and clutches – To manufacture various Army vehicles to preserve the life of friction parts prone to wear-and-tear
  • Gaskets and seals – In a wide range of military equipment, such as engines, pumps and piping systems to help prevent leaks and maintain the integrity of the systems
  • Fireproof clothing – To insulate fireproof clothing worn by firefighters and soldiers; was also used in gloves soldiers wore to handle spent artillery shells and hot machine gun barrels
  • Aircraft components – In gaskets, seals and heat shields to protect component and exhaust systems from the intense heat generated by aircraft engines; was also used in acoustic insulation for both safety and operational efficiency
  • Buildings and barracks – To construct buildings and barracks, specifically asbestos cement boards, drywall, joint compound, ceiling tiles, floor tiles and siding

Army Veterans at High Risk of Asbestos Exposure 

Veterans who served in the Army may have held jobs involving work on or near asbestos-containing materials, which caused a particularly high risk of asbestos exposure and increased their chances of developing mesothelioma

Jobs in the Army that put veterans at risk of mesothelioma include construction, maintenance, and vehicle repair, as these jobs frequently required individuals to handle materials made with asbestos. As a result, veterans working these jobs may have been exposed to asbestos. Additionally, other service members likely experienced secondary asbestos exposure simply by being present or passing through areas where this type of asbestos work occurred.

Exposure to asbestos is associated with a range of serious health issues, including lung cancer, asbestosis, gastrointestinal cancer, ovarian cancer and malignant mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer primarily affecting the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. Many Army veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma have traced their illness back to their military service and the asbestos exposure they experienced.

Mesothelioma Compensation for Army Veterans and Family Members

Mesothelioma is a devastating cancer. For veterans who served their country with honor, a mesothelioma diagnosis can be particularly heartbreaking. Fortunately, many benefits are available to veterans and their families to provide support and financial assistance during this challenging time.

Army veterans with mesothelioma may be able to file a mesothelioma claim for benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and/or compensation through the legal system. For more information on VA benefits for mesothelioma, contact our veterans advocate, VA-accredited claims agent, retired LCDR Carl Jewett

Mesothelioma VA Benefits for Army Veterans 

There are several VA benefits for veterans with mesothelioma that provide financial assistance to Army veterans and their families:

Compensation amounts may vary if the veteran has a dependent spouse or dependent children. VA Pension is a means-tested benefit, meaning the Army veteran’s income will affect the monthly payment.

VA Benefits for Family Members of Army Veterans

The VA also offers benefits to family members of veterans who have passed away due to mesothelioma, including:

  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation – If the veteran passed away due to service-connected mesothelioma or any other service-connected condition
  • Survivors Pension – If the spouse of a wartime veteran meets certain income requirements
  • Aid & Attendance – If the survivor requires the assistance of another person to perform at least two activities of daily living
  • CHAMPVA – A health care program for spouses and children of disabled veterans (alive or deceased)
  • Burial benefits – Financial assistance offered to families of deceased veterans to contribute to funeral costs

Surviving spouses and dependent children are usually eligible for these benefits.

Legal Claims for Army Veterans With Mesothelioma 

Asbestos products and materials were heavily used throughout the military during the 20th century. The Army purchased these cancer-causing products without knowledge of the dangers. The asbestos manufacturing companies did not disclose the health risks associated with the substance to the consumers, regulatory agencies or the general public.

The asbestos manufacturing companies are legally responsible for mesothelioma diagnoses, including Army veterans. The most effective way to hold these companies accountable for their negligence is by filing a legal compensation claim to receive mesothelioma compensation.

There are two main types of legal claims U.S. Army veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma can file: 

  • Asbestos trust funds — Filed with bankrupt asbestos companies’ trust funds that result in a fixed compensation amount previously established by the courts
  • Mesothelioma lawsuits — Filed against active asbestos companies that often result in compensation through a settlement agreement or a verdict decided by a jury

To file a mesothelioma lawsuit against asbestos companies, ask for help from an experienced mesothelioma lawyer who can file whichever asbestos claim is suitable for your circumstance.

To connect with a qualified mesothelioma lawyer, contact our VA-accredited claims agent and veterans advocate, retired LCDR Carl Jewett. He offers free assistance to veterans with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease to file VA claims or connect with top law firms. Our mission at Mesothelioma Guide is to help veterans who have experienced asbestos exposure in the Army and provide them with the support they need.

Asbestos exposure is a serious concern for veterans, and it is imperative to raise awareness about the risks and benefits available to those affected. If you’re a veteran and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, do not hesitate to contact our team for assistance and explore your compensation and support options.

Mesothelioma Treatment for U.S. Army Veterans 

U.S. Army veterans can receive mesothelioma treatment at VA hospitals or civilian hospitals. The VA offers many benefits to veterans, including VA Health Care, which is health insurance with either low or no copayments for veterans with mesothelioma.

If the veteran enrolls in VA Health Care, they can receive medical care at one of the two VA hospitals with mesothelioma treatment programs and teams:

If the veteran chooses to receive treatment from a civilian specialist, they can obtain a referral from the VA and their VA Health Care plan will cover the visit and treatment.

Mesothelioma Guide recommends Army veterans with mesothelioma seek out a specialist at a top cancer center or VA medical center to treat their cancer. Mesothelioma is a complex cancer and requires doctors to have years of specialized experience to effectively treat it.

Mesothelioma treatment for veterans is similar to civilians who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Common treatment options for mesothelioma include: 

These treatment options heavily depend on the type of mesothelioma the patient has been diagnosed with and in which stage. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Army Veterans and Mesothelioma

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How many Army veterans have mesothelioma?

The exact number of Army veterans with mesothelioma is undetermined. According to the Boston VA Hospital’s registry of cases treated at the medical center, Army veterans account for around 30% of mesothelioma cases involving veterans.

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How were Army veterans exposed to asbestos?

Army veterans working on or spending time in barracks or vehicles were potentially exposed to asbestos. The U.S. military didn’t know asbestos was dangerous, which explains the abundance of asbestos in the military and why Army personnel didn’t wear protective equipment when handling asbestos.

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What VA benefits are available to Army veterans with mesothelioma?

Army veterans with mesothelioma can apply for VA Disability Compensation or VA Pension, depending on where they were exposed to asbestos. These benefits are monthly payments from the VA to the veteran, and payment amounts vary based on whether the veteran has any dependent children or a dependent spouse. Veterans of the U.S. Army can also apply for health care coverage through the VA.

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What VA benefits are available to the family members of Army veterans who died of mesothelioma?

If an Army veteran passes away from mesothelioma, their surviving family members are eligible for benefits, including health care and monthly payments from the VA in the form of Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC) or Survivor Pension. The family members eligible are usually the surviving spouse and any surviving dependent children. Another benefit for family members is reimbursement for the veteran’s funeral service and burial.

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Can U.S. Army veterans with mesothelioma take legal action for additional compensation?

Yes, veterans of the U.S. Army with mesothelioma can take legal action, specifically lawsuits or claims with asbestos trust funds. Compensation from legal claims can result in substantial help paying for treatment, lost wages and interest from debt. Mesothelioma cancer is caused by unethical business practices, and the disease could’ve and should’ve been prevented, which is why people affected by this cancer have the right to seek justice.

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Are there lawyers who handle cases of Army veterans with mesothelioma?

Yes, there are mesothelioma lawyers for veterans, and Mesothelioma Guide recommends Army veterans and their family members seek their help in taking legal action. These attorneys have years of experience representing veterans with mesothelioma, compiling and presenting the evidence needed to prove how they were exposed to asbestos, and helping them receive justice against the responsible parties.

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Are mesothelioma lawsuits involving Army veterans made against the U.S. government or military?

No, mesothelioma lawsuits filed by U.S. Army veterans are not filed against the military. Lawsuits are filed against the asbestos manufacturing companies that produced and sold asbestos to the military. These companies had evidence asbestos was dangerous but continued to profit off of it for many years, whereas the military was ignorant to the risks posed to servicemembers.

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What type of support is offered to Army veterans with mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma Guide provides Army veterans affected by mesothelioma with several free resources, including the assistance of our on-staff VA-accredited claims agent to help you file for VA benefits. Mesothelioma Guide can also provide free assistance in finding a mesothelioma lawyer for veterans. Email our veterans advocate, Carl Jewett, at cjewett@mesotheliomaguide.com to get started.

Sources & Author

  1. Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM): Analysis of Military Occupation Related to Asbestos Exposure and Subsequent VA Disability Entitlements in Veterans at the Boston VA (VABHS). AVAHO Updates. Retrieved from: https://www.mdedge.com/fedprac/avaho/article/113975/oncology/malignant-pleural-mesothelioma-mpm-analysis-military?sso=true. Accessed: 02/01/2021.
  2. Active and reserve U.S. military force personnel numbers by service branch and reserve component in 2019. Statista. Retrieved from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/232330/us-military-force-numbers-by-service-branch-and-reserve-component/. Accessed: 01/30/2021.
Devin Golden

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the senior content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.