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Veterans And Mesothelioma

As a veteran, you are more vulnerable to developing mesothelioma. Because asbestos was so widely used throughout all of the military branches -- even mandated in Naval vessels -- scores of veterans have been injured or killed by this rare and deadly cancer. In some respects, there is an epidemic of mesothelioma cases throughout all branches of the military.

Used In All Branches

For decades, asbestos was used in hundreds of different ways throughout all four branches of the military -- the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. Because asbestos is known for its heat and fire resistant properties, it was used in insulation, protective clothing and military apparatus, just to name a few.

Not Banned

Although many public agencies began cautioning against asbestos use in the 1960s, it wasn’t until the 1980s that the military started pulling back on its asbestos use. Even with that, today it is still widely used or still in place from years past. Even though some governmental and private-sector agencies have declared asbestos a health hazard, its use is not outlawed in the United States. Instead, the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) monitors its use.

Asbestos Uses in the Navy

Starting during World War II and through the Vietnam War, asbestos was widely used in a variety of vessels and vehicles in the Navy. This was particularly true in warships and submarines, where it was used to insulate pipes, in boiler rooms and in sleeping quarters. Each ship contained several tons of asbestos. Many Navy veterans who worked and lived in the closed quarters of these vessels were exposed daily. In addition, many of these vessels had poor ventilation systems, carrying asbestos dust to the far reaches of the ship or submarine. It’s also not uncommon for family members of Navy veterans to be diagnosed with mesothelioma through secondhand exposure.

Asbestos Uses in the Army

Asbestos was widely used in Army installations and vehicles for decades prior the 1970s, when the government cracked down on its use. Many of the buildings used in Army bases had asbestos mixed into the concrete for flooring and wall materials because of its fire- and heat-resistant properties. Army soldiers themselves did this work, putting them at added danger for inhaling free-floating asbestos. At the same time, Army vehicles were manufactured using asbestos, particularly in the brakes, insulation and gaskets. Tanks, transport vehicles and combat vehicles all had asbestos products in them.

Asbestos Use in the Air Force

Like the Army, the Air Force widely used asbestos in military base buildings to protect the service personnel from heat and fire threats. The fine, fluffy fibers were mixed into cement to make floors and walls for base buildings. It wasn’t until 1968 that the Air Force adopted a grading system to begin abating some of the asbestos-laden buildings. Asbestos was also widely used, and still used to some extent, in aircraft braking systems and in engine insulation.

Asbestos Use in the Marines

Because of the diverse work the Marines carry out, these service members have many of the same dangers as those in the Navy and the Army. Many who served in the Marine Corps worked aboard ships and submarines like the Navy personnel or worked to construct vessels and buildings containing asbestos products.


  1. “Asbestos and the Military, History, Exposure & Assistance.” Retrieved from
  2. United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Exposure To Asbestos. Retrieved from
  3. Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management. Asbestos Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from
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