Over eight million men and women served in the United States Army in World War II. Over one million served in the Korean War and 1.7 million in Vietnam. During that period of about 35 years the use of asbestos in construction products, mechanical products and consumer products was at its peak. Since thirty percent of all mesothelioma (asbestos cancer) victims are veterans, it is safe to say that thousands of them were Army veterans.
Army Asbestos Exposure
Millions of Army veterans have been exposed to asbestos since World War II began. The hundreds of barracks and shops and buildings that were constructed to create that wartime army were put up in a hurry with tons of asbestos insulation, roofing, flooring, and other products used in the construction. Heating systems using boilers routinely were insulated with asbestos blankets or sheets, as were the pipes that fed the hot water heating systems.
Army troops that worked on equipment or facilities doing maintenance or repair work encountered asbestos parts used in engines, pumps, motorized vehicle brakes, and any sort of equipment that required shielding from heat. The use of asbestos parts for these types of equipment continued through the 1960s on equipment that was deployed in Korea, Vietnam, and throughout the Army bases around the globe that were established during the Cold War.
The presence of asbestos in Army facilities has plagued the military and Department of Defense for decades. The Army was slow to admit that asbestos exposure was a danger to its troops and slower still to reduce the chances of exposure. Cleanup of Army bases with asbestos-lined buildings and heating systems has taken decades and in many cases, has hampered the closure of obsolete facilities. While the use of asbestos in motorized vehicles has been greatly reduced since 1970, that is little consolation for the tens of thousands of troops who worked in motor pools, keeping equipment of all types operating.
Mesothelioma in the Army
Mesothelioma is a lethal form of cancer for which the only known cause is asbestos, usually inhaled or ingested in the form of microscopic fibers. Those fibers were given off by worn flooring, roofing, ceiling tiles, insulation, and military products of many types from 1940 through the end of the Twentieth Century. Because mesothelioma takes forty years or more to show symptoms, army veterans who served decades ago are just now getting sick. The VA has finally recognized asbestos exposure in the Army as a viable cause for mesothelioma in veterans, which means thousands of veterans have been treated for mesothelioma and asbestosis and asbestos lung cancer in Veterans Administration hospitals.
The average age of a mesothelioma victim is sixty five years old. The risk of developing mesothelioma or any other form of asbestos disease is multiplied several times over if the person exposed to asbestos is or was a smoker. The use of tobacco has been an Army tradition up until the last twenty years, when U.S. citizens in general put the habit aside in large numbers. But smoking has certainly been a contributor to the development of mesothelioma in Army veterans, although not the cause.
Army Veterans Compensation for Mesothelioma
It took the military a long time to acknowledge the link between active duty asbestos exposure and the high occurrence of mesothelioma among veterans, just as it took decades for them to admit the health problems associated with Agent Orange in Vietnam. But today if veterans can prove that they were exposed to asbestos on active duty and that it likely is the cause of a disease that has developed, the VA will provide medical treatment for mesothelioma.
Thousands of veterans have also sued the manufacturers of asbestos products to which they were exposed, and won. If you are an Army veteran who has developed mesothelioma or another asbestos related disease, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact one of our attorneys for a review of your case, conducted in privacy and at no charge.