Last modified: April 5, 2021
Benefits for Army Veterans with Mesothelioma
Army veterans with mesothelioma are entitled to several VA benefits if their cancer was caused by military asbestos exposure. Even if their cancer is not service connected, Army veterans may still be able to access low-cost VA health care and receive other types of compensation for mesothelioma.
The U.S. armed forces relied on asbestos-containing products throughout much of the 20th century. Many service members were exposed to asbestos, which can lead to cancer 20 to 50 years later.
Although the Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes this, receiving VA benefits based on asbestos exposure is a complex process.
Filing a VA Claim and Other Financial Compensation
Service-connected mesothelioma is considered 100% disabling, which grants veterans the maximum amount of monthly disability compensation. Surviving spouses of veterans who die from service-connected mesothelioma can file to receive dependency and indemnity compensation.
Preparing a thorough asbestos exposure summary along with your medical records is essential to filing a successful VA claim for mesothelioma.
Veterans Department director and former Army Capt. Aaron Munz is an accredited VA Claims Agent who understands the documentation requirements for proving military asbestos exposure. He can help Army veterans prepare the paperwork they need to file a claim with the VA.
Army veterans also have the option of suing the private companies that supplied asbestos products to the military. This can allow veterans and their families to recover lost income, caregiving expenses and other costs associated with mesothelioma.
An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can evaluate your case and explain whether you can file a VA claim and a legal claim at the same time.
Mesothelioma Treatment for Army Veterans
Because of the high rate of asbestos cancer among veterans, the VA health care system has partnered with some of the best mesothelioma doctors in America. VA health care is affordable for low-income veterans, and the VA provides free treatment for diseases connected to military service.
The top VA treatment centers for mesothelioma are located in Boston, Los Angeles, Miami and Houston.
In addition, a team led by mesothelioma expert Dr. Raphael Bueno received a three-year grant from the Department of Defense in 2017. The team is studying the DNA of tumors caused by active-duty asbestos exposure so they can develop new targeted treatments for veterans with mesothelioma.
Military Asbestos Exposure in the Army
Every branch of the military ramped up its use of asbestos during World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. The Army used many asbestos-containing construction materials and vehicle parts.
The U.S. military stopped using asbestos for new construction in the late 1970s, but the toxic mineral remained in Army installations for decades after that.
Asbestos-related diseases take decades to develop, so cases caused by Army asbestos exposure are usually diagnosed long after service members have retired.
Asbestos Products Used in the Army
Asbestos is a naturally occurring, inexpensive mineral that was valued for its durability and heat resistance. Asbestos-containing products were used to construct buildings where Army personnel worked, slept and ate. Asbestos parts were also used in trucks, tanks and other Army vehicles.
Asbestos was mixed into cement, caulking, flooring and roofing materials to make them stronger. Asbestos was also a key ingredient in a variety of insulation products such as pipe insulation, block insulation and spray-on fireproofing.
Mechanical asbestos parts included gaskets, clutch plates and brake pads.
Any work that released asbestos dust into the air put service members at risk of asbestos exposure.
Army Jobs with High Risk of Asbestos Exposure
- Vehicle maintenance
Army Asbestos Exposure After the 1980s
After the Army stopped using new asbestos products, there were still exposure risks leftover from all the asbestos products already installed in Army buildings and vehicles. In 1998, the Army adopted the Installation Asbestos Management Program to protect its members from asbestos health risks.
The program requires all Army facilities and activities to comply with local, state and federal laws on asbestos safety. It instructs personnel to minimize the release of asbestos fibers and to always use asbestos alternatives when possible.
The program sets many requirements for asbestos management, including taking an inventory of all asbestos risks and creating a detailed asbestos management plan for each facility.
However, there are also military asbestos exposure risks for Army soldiers deployed to developing nations where asbestos products are still commonly used. In particular, Army personnel may have been exposed to asbestos dust in the debris of destroyed buildings in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In May 2020, the U.S. Defense Department’s Inspector General issued a report on 38,000 military housing units in the U.S. and abroad containing hazardous substances such as asbestos or lead. Asbestos exposure remains a concern for Army members serving at home and overseas.
Army veterans should talk to their doctors about their potential history of asbestos exposure, so they can better understand their personal risk of developing an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma later in life.
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