Written By:
Last Modified April 8, 2022
This page features 8 Cited Research Articles
Fact Checked
Our fact-checking process begins with a thorough review of all sources to ensure they are high quality. Then we cross-check the facts with original medical or scientific reports published by those sources, or we validate the facts with reputable news organizations, medical and scientific experts and other health experts. Each page includes all sources for full transparency.
Reviewed

Asbestos.com is the nation’s most trusted mesothelioma resource

The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com has provided patients and their loved ones the most updated and reliable information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure since 2006.

Our team of Patient Advocates includes a medical doctor, a registered nurse, health services administrators, veterans, VA-accredited Claims Agents, an oncology patient navigator and hospice care expert. Their combined expertise means we help any mesothelioma patient or loved one through every step of their cancer journey.

More than 30 contributors, including mesothelioma doctors, survivors, health care professionals and other experts, have peer-reviewed our website and written unique research-driven articles to ensure you get the highest-quality medical and health information.

About The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com

  • Assisting mesothelioma patients and their loved ones since 2006.
  • Helps more than 50% of mesothelioma patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • 5-star reviewed mesothelioma and support organization.
Learn More About Us

Testimonials

"My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family."
Lashawn
Mesothelioma patient’s daughter
  • Google Review Rating
  • BBB Review Rating
Read Our Testimonials

Benefits for Marines Exposed to Asbestos

Marine Corps veterans who develop cancer because of military asbestos exposure are entitled to the maximum level of monthly disability compensation for their family size.

Surviving spouses of veterans who die from service-connected cancer can file for dependency and indemnity compensation.

The VA health care system provides free cancer treatment to veterans with service-connected cancer.

To receive these benefits, you must file a VA claim with the required medical records and a written asbestos exposure summary.

Because asbestos-related diseases take decades to develop, filing for VA benefits over asbestos exposure can be complicated. It is best to work with an accredited VA claims agent who is familiar with asbestos-related diseases.

Veterans benefits alone may not cover all the expenses of asbestos-related cancer, such as lost income and caregiving costs. You may be able to recover these costs by suing the private companies that supplied asbestos products to the military.

An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can advise you about the possibility of filing a lawsuit for compensation.

Marines and Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer caused by inhaling asbestos dust. Many Marine Corps veterans have developed mesothelioma because of asbestos exposure that happened during their service.

  • Actor Steve McQueen’s asbestos exposure began during his time in the Marine Corps, when he was tasked with stripping asbestos off pipes in a ship’s engine room. McQueen was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 1979 and died less than a year later at age 50.
  • David Cutts served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. In 2005, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma and opted for aggressive treatment that included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. His mesothelioma remained in control for years beyond the average survival rate.
  • John Johnson also served in Vietnam, and 40 years later he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Johnson was initially misdiagnosed, and by the time he received care from a mesothelioma specialist, it was too late for the therapies to work effectively. He died of mesothelioma in 2012.

Expert mesothelioma care is available at the VA treatment centers in Boston, Los Angeles, Miami and Houston. Even if a veteran’s cancer is not service connected, they may still be eligible for low-cost treatment through the VA system, and the VA can help veterans travel for treatment.

In 2017, the Department of Defense awarded a three-year grant to a team led by Dr. Raphael Bueno, a top mesothelioma expert. The project’s purpose is to study the genetics of tumors caused by active-duty asbestos exposure and try to develop new targeted treatments for veterans with mesothelioma.


Retired Marine Saluting
Marine Corps veterans were frequently exposed to asbestos throughout their service.

Asbestos Risks for Marines in Ships and Shipyards

Throughout the 20th century, every branch of the military valued asbestos products for their affordability and resistance to heat and chemical damage. Any veteran who spent time aboard ships or in shipyards was especially at risk of asbestos exposure.

In August 2020, a study published in the International Journal of Radiation Biology analyzed mortality data for 235,000 military personnel, including Marines, who participated in nuclear weapons tests from 1945 to 1962. While no illnesses were attributed to radiation exposure, a high risk of mesothelioma was observed among those who served on Navy ships.

From World War II through the Vietnam War, Marines were transported on Navy ships where the use of asbestos was widespread. The poor ventilation aboard ships meant sailors and Marines were often exposed to asbestos dust on a daily basis.

Asbestos products were used in the dining and sleeping quarters, engine and boiler rooms and around pipes as insulation. Asbestos was also used in cables, gaskets and valves throughout ships.

Asbestos fireproofing and insulation were typically applied in shipyards, creating some of the worst conditions for asbestos exposure. An alarming number of asbestos-containing materials were used to ensure each vessel was as fire-retardant as possible.

Exposed to Asbestos in the Military?
Learn how to access benefits available to veterans affected by an asbestos-related illness.

Asbestos Exposure on Marine Corps Bases

On land, asbestos was a part of everyday life for Marines. Virtually every military installation was built with many construction products that contained asbestos, including pipe and boiler insulation, floor tiles and roofing materials.

One of the most common places Marines were exposed to asbestos was in sleeping quarters. Asbestos could be found in pipe insulation above beds and even in bedding. Small disturbances released asbestos fibers into the air, which often accumulated as a fine dust on Marines’ beds.

Military vehicles were also made with asbestos-containing products such as brakes, gaskets and engine parts. Asbestos fibers easily became airborne when the parts were worked on and repaired.

The dangers of asbestos became indisputable by the mid-1970s. The military banned the toxic mineral’s use in new construction, but asbestos-contaminated bases, ships and support vehicles remained in service for many more years.

Much of the contamination remains today. In May 2020, the U.S. Defense Department’s Inspector General reported on 38,000 military housing units containing hazardous substances such as asbestos or lead.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared Marine Corps Air Station Yuma a Superfund site in 1990 because the use of asbestos around the base had led to soil contamination. All the asbestos-contaminated soil was removed by 2001, and cleanup at the Yuma station continued with a focus on groundwater contamination.

Asbestos contamination has also been documented at Marine Corps bases such as:

  • Marine Corps Air Station El Toro
  • Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
  • Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
  • Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow

U.S. World War 2 veteran saluting with an American flag in background
Access Free VA Claims Assistance
Get the Compensation You Deserve
Laptop with screen video conference on kitchen counter
Watch Our Free Mesothelioma Webinars

  •  
  •  
  •  
Tell us what you think
Did this article help you?
How did this article help you?
What about this article isn’t helpful for you?
Did this article help you?

Thank you for your feedback. Would you like to speak with a Patient Advocate?