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Veterans at Increased Risk for Mesothelioma
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Veterans at Increased Risk for Mesothelioma

Asbestos Litigation

The VA has now recognized that veterans may be at an increased risk for developing mesothelioma, cancer associated with exposure to asbestos fiber. The government has announced that during World War II, several million people were employed in U.S. shipyards. U.S. Navy Veterans were exposed to amosite and crocidolite since these varieties were used extensively in military construction.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral widely used in construction and shipbuilding for its fire-resistant properties. However, it has been linked to a number of serious health problems, including lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. Many veterans were exposed to asbestos during their military service, and as a result, they have suffered from these and other health problems in the years since.

One of the main ways in which veterans were exposed to asbestos was through their exposure to asbestos-containing materials in military ships and buildings. During the course of their service, veterans inhaled asbestos fibers that lodged in their lungs, leading to the development of serious health problems over time. In particular, veterans who served on navy ships were at an increased risk of exposure, as these ships were heavily insulated with asbestos.

In addition to their exposure to asbestos on ships, veterans may have also been exposed to asbestos while serving on military bases. Many military buildings constructed prior to the 1980s were built with asbestos-containing materials, and veterans who worked in these buildings may have inhaled asbestos fibers while on duty. This exposure could have been particularly significant for those who worked in maintenance and repair roles, as they may have been in direct contact with asbestos-containing materials while performing their duties.

The health effects of exposure to asbestos can take many years to manifest, and veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their military service may not have developed symptoms until decades later. However, once these symptoms do appear, they can be severe and debilitating, leading to a decline in health and quality of life.

How Veterans Have Been Exposed to Asbestos during Military Service

Veterans who served in some of the following major occupations may have been exposed to asbestos:

  • Mining
  • Milling
  • Shipyard work
  • Insulation work
  • Demolition of old buildings
  • Carpentry and construction
  • Manufacture and servicing of friction products, such as clutch facings and brake linings
  • Manufacture and installation of products, such as roofing and flooring materials, asbestos cement sheet and pipe products, and military equipment

Health Problems Associated with Exposure to Asbestos

Breathing asbestos mainly causes problems in the lungs and the membrane that surrounds the lungs, including:

  • Asbestosis Scarring of lung tissue that causes breathing problems, usually in workers exposed to asbestos in workplaces before the Federal government began regulating asbestos use (the mid-1970s).
  • Pleural Plaque Scarring in the inner surface of the ribcage and area surrounding the lungs that can cause breathing problems, though usually not as serious as asbestosis. People living in areas with high environmental levels of asbestos, as well as workers, can develop pleural plaques.
  • Cancer -The two types of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos are lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer of the thin lining surrounding the lung (pleural membrane) or abdominal cavity (the peritoneum).

Benefits, Asbestos Trust. Funds and Asbestos Litigation

Veterans may be eligible to file for monetary recovery from the asbestos trust funds established by many of the product manufacturers. Also, veterans may be eligible to institute litigation against many of the still-solvent manufacturers, suppliers, and health research groups involved in the asbestos business.

The VA has indicated that exposed veterans may be eligible for governmental benefits, including Health Care Benefits, Disability Compensation Benefits, and other benefits including, home loans, vocational rehabilitation, and education.


The author, Jon L. Gelman, practices law in Wayne, NJ. He is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters). For over five decades, the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900 have represented injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

Recommended Citation: Gelman, Jon L.,  Veterans at Increased Risk for Mesothelioma, (2023),

© 2001-2023 Jon L Gelman. All rights reserved.

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