Mesothelioma Attorneys

Veterans’ Resources

Asbestos Cancer

Veterans of the U.S. military are at high risk for developing mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other asbestos-related illnesses. Veterans who served in the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard are likely to have experienced the highest levels of asbestos exposure, due to the extensive use of asbestos in ships and shipyards, but all branches of military used asbestos heavily.

Not an Innocent Mistake

In 1939 the Navy’s Surgeon General reported on the detrimental health effects of prolonged asbestos exposure, acknowledging that asbestos caused asbestosis. Even so, the Navy decided to require the use of asbestos on all new vessels beginning that year. Asbestos use in the military was far from limited to Navy ships. Asbestos was heavily used in:

  • Tanks
  • Aircraft
  • Automobiles
  • Military housing
  • Other military buildings

Help for Veterans

Military veterans who have developed asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related illnesses may be eligible for health care through the Veteran’s Health Administration. You may also be entitled to disability benefits through the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).

VA services and other state and federal programs established to help U.S. veterans can be confusing and difficult to gain access to. Although the VA was set up to help veterans, the paperwork and procedures you may be required to go through can be very daunting and it can take years to get through the process. Many veterans who are trying to deal with serious health problems simply do not have the time and energy to devote to the complicated process and give up or die before they are approved for medical services and other benefits.

Qualifying for VA benefits can be very difficult. In order to receive VA benefits you must prove that your illness was caused by asbestos exposure and that your exposure occurred during military service. However, you may be eligible for compensation from other sources through a personal injury lawsuit, if you cannot prove that your exposure occurred only while you were serving in the military.


One obstacle that veterans may face is misdiagnosis or lack of a definitive diagnosis or asbestos-related illnesses. Asbestosis is often misdiagnosed as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Both mesothelioma and asbestosis are often initially overlooked and mistaken for other illnesses such as pneumonia. In the very earliest stages of mesothelioma, treatment can be successful. Because of the high likelihood of asbestos exposure, military veterans should be screened for mesothelioma if they show any potential early symptoms and possibly when no symptoms are present.