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Marine Corp Veteran Asbestos Exposure & Mesothelioma

Veterans of the United States Marine Corps may have encountered asbestos in nearly every building component in military installations, both at home and abroad. Marines commonly came into contact with asbestos through insulation, flooring, water pipes, boilers, land vehicles, aircraft, industrial equipment, and more. Many were even exposed in their sleeping quarters. If you’re a Marine veteran with a mesothelioma diagnosis, the military and the parties that supplied asbestos to the Marine Corps may owe you compensation.

Sam Taylor (1)

Legally Reviewed By: Sam E. Taylor
Managing Attorney | Mesothelioma & Asbestos in Houston

Sam Taylor

Legally Reviewed By: Sam E. Taylor
Managing Attorney | Mesothelioma & Asbestos in Houston

Financial Compensation for
Marine Veterans with Mesothelioma

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness after serving on active duty in the Marines, you may be eligible for mesothelioma VA benefits and compensation from a third-party lawsuit against the manufacturers that supplied asbestos to the Marines.

VA Benefits Marines with Active-Duty Asbestos Exposure

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides free medical care and monthly tax-free compensation for Marines with asbestos-related illnesses. The type of compensation available depends on your diagnosis, the severity of your condition, and, in some cases, your income.

VA disability compensation is available to veterans with a disability rating of 10 percent or higher. The VA assigns disability ratings ranging from 10 to 100 percent based on your overall health and ability to function. The higher your disability rating, the higher the compensation.

If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, you will be assigned a 100 percent disability rating. The disability compensation rate for veterans with a 100 percent disability rating as of 2024 is $3,737.85. That amount is increased if you have a spouse or other dependents. If you are diagnosed with a non-cancerous asbestos-related illness, your disability rating may range from 0 to 100 percent.

If your disability rating is low, but you have limited resources, you may be able to receive a VA pension. The need-based pension program provides monthly payments to veterans who served during wartime. Compensation for a VA pension depends on your income, dependents, and whether you are housebound or need a caregiver.

You can obtain these benefits by filing a VA claim for asbestos exposure through the mail or in person.

Filing a Lawsuit for Asbestos Exposure in the Marines

Although you cannot sue the United States Marines for asbestos exposure, you may be able to sue the companies that supplied asbestos to the Marines. Our law firm can review your service records, determine how you were exposed to asbestos in the military, and identify the companies that supplied it.

You may be able to recover the following damages in an asbestos exposure lawsuit include the following:

  • Mesothelioma treatment expenses
  • Personal care services
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages

Many companies responsible for asbestos exposure in the Marines have declared bankruptcy. While asbestos-exposure victims cannot pursue lawsuits against bankrupt asbestos product manufacturers, federal bankruptcy courts made them establish trust funds to benefit victims. Currently, $30 billion is available in the asbestos trust funds to compensate asbestos-exposure victims.

We can help you file your lawsuit or trust fund claim with no upfront cost to you, and we can advise on your legal rights concerning your VA benefits.

Asbestos Exposure at Marine Corps Bases

Marine Veterans

Asbestos was a common component in civilian and military building construction from the early 1900s until 1980 and even later in some cases. The military widely used asbestos because it was inexpensive, abundant, and versatile. It was used in nearly every building on Marine bases, including schools, office buildings, and housing.

Almost all military housing was built before 1978. As recently as 2004, an inspection of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command Center in Quantico, Virginia, revealed that seven of the 18 housing areas contained asbestos in a condition that, if disturbed, could be inhaled. This is known as friable asbestos. It was found in the following components:

The extent of the asbestos exposure in Quantico living quarters is unknown because no air samples were taken. However, friable asbestos can quickly spread through any building’s ventilation system, and the microscopic particles are easily released into the air with even the slightest disturbance, making recurring exposures likely.

Except for the newest base in South Korea, all other Marine bases were constructed 70 or more years ago when asbestos was heavily used in building construction. Thus, regardless of your specialty, you were likely exposed to asbestos if you have ever served in the U.S. Marines and worked, trained, or resided at the following bases or others:

  • Marine Corps Air Station Yuma
  • Twentynine Palms Air Ground Combat Center
  • Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
  • Camp Pendleton
  • Recruit Depot San Diego
  • United States Southern Command in Florida
  • Marine Corps Bases in Hawaii
  • Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point
  • Marine Corps Air Station New River
  • Camp Lejeune
  • Beaufort South Carolina Military Bases
  • Parris Island Recruit Depot
  • Henderson Hall in Virginia
  • Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall
  • Camp S.D. Butler in Japan
  • Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

Marine Asbestos Exposure on Aircraft and Air Stations

Marine Corps air stations were also built while asbestos was still a popular building material, resulting in asbestos exposure in the hangars and other buildings. However, Marines working on airbases also faced significant direct asbestos exposure while working on aircraft.

The fire-resistance and light weight of asbestos made it useful in aircraft components that generated significant heat, such as engine, propulsion components, and friction-generating components, such as brakes. Aircraft brakes have been known to contain as much as 23 percent asbestos by weight.

Aircraft technicians may have been exposed to asbestos through the following components:

Asbestos Exposure at MCAS Tustin

The Tustin Air Base in California burned down in November of 2023 and prompted Orange County officials to declare a state of emergency due to the known risks of asbestos, heavy metals, and other toxic substances that may have become airborne during the fire.

MCAS Tustin was initially commissioned in 1942 as a Navy facility, but it was recommissioned as a Marine Corps Air Station in 1951 to support helicopter operations in the Korean War. It officially closed in 1999. Approximately 4,500 Marines lived on base, and nearly 5,000 Marines and civilians worked there, all of whom may have been exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos Exposure at MCAS Yuma

MCAS Yuma in Arizona is an EPA Superfund Site added to the National Priority List in 1990. Superfund is a national program established by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, or CERCLA. It provides the EPA with the authority to enforce the cleanup of toxic substances and funds the EPA to perform such cleanups as necessary.

The Yuma Air Station first came under the control of the United States Marines in 1962. This base is primarily used for combat training. An average of 600 aircraft are used to train 14,000 personnel for ongoing training per year.

Asbestos is among the many pollutants the EPA identified at the Yuma Air Base. Asbestos remediation at this site was completed in 1999. The EPA identified the following CERCLA areas of concern on the base:

  • The Radar Hill Disposal Area – asbestos-containing materials in piles of broken debris
  • The Fire Training School – small, broken asbestos-containing materials south and east of the fire-training pit in the northern unit and soil contamination of asbestos up to one foot deep
  • The Southeast Sewage Lagoon – asbestos soil contamination and broken pieces of asbestos-containing materials in a debris pile north of the horse stables

Marine Asbestos Exposure on Ships and Shipyards

As a division of the Navy, the Marine Corps works closely with the Navy during combat operations at sea and may be transported or stationed on Navy ships—one of the most significant sources of asbestos exposure in the military. Asbestos was used on nearly every component of Navy ships, including the following:

  • The keel
  • Water pipes
  • Brakes
  • Boiler rooms
  • Engine rooms
  • Bulkheads
  • Armories

The famous actor Steve McQueen died of pleural mesothelioma in 1980 at the young age of 50 after being exposed to asbestos in the Marines. He trained at Parris Island and spent much of his time on active duty working on ships and in shipyards.

Asbestos Exposure Risks to Active Duty Marines

Asbestos is a versatile substance that the Marines used in building construction, industrial applications, aircraft, sea vessels, land vehicles, artillery, and equipment. The military began phasing out asbestos in the late 1970s, but asbestos remediation is expensive and time-consuming. As a result, Marine buildings and equipment continue to harbor asbestos and put Marines at risk to this day.

Occupational asbestos exposure is the most significant source of asbestos exposure in the Marines. The Department of Veterans Affairs acknowledges that asbestos exposure occurs in the following military occupations:

  • Miners
  • Insulation workers
  • Millers
  • Shipyard workers
  • Demolition workers
  • Carpenters
  • Construction workers

The VA acknowledges that this is not an exhaustive list. Marines in many specialties and occupations, including plumbers, electricians, communication technicians, power plant workers, engineers, and weapons manufacturers, also faced significant asbestos exposure.

Active duty Marines are also in danger of asbestos exposure during combat missions on foreign soil. Asbestos was widely used in construction materials and equipment overseas, and some countries have yet to ban it.

Asbestos contained in undamaged materials does not always pose a risk, but asbestos fibers may be released during explosions, earthquakes, and fires. Asbestos exposure caused by these events can be significant.

The Effects of Marine Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure in the Marines may lead to the following conditions:

These diseases develop over decades. You may not experience any symptoms until after you have an advanced disease. The period from exposure to the development of disease is known as latency. The latency of mesothelioma is typically 10 to 60 years or more after your initial exposure, meaning that even if you left the military 20 or more years ago and haven’t become sick, you could still develop mesothelioma from asbestos exposure during your service.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do You Have To Be Exposed to Asbestos Before It Affects You?

No amount of asbestos exposure is safe. Even short-term exposure can bring long-term health consequences. Researchers are still studying asbestos. Research shows that certain types of asbestos, like the amphibole form, remain in the lungs longer and are more likely to cause conditions like mesothelioma.

What If a Marine Veteran Dies From an Asbestos-Related Illness?

Both VA benefits and legal options like a mesothelioma lawsuit exist to compensate the children and spouses of Marines whose deaths resulted from asbestos exposure. If surviving family members are eligible, they can receive compensation through VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.

Working with an experienced attorney is the best way to maximize the benefits you receive after a loved one dies from asbestos exposure in the Marines.

Legal Help for Marine Veterans and Their Families

If you’re a Marine, a Marine veteran, or the spouse or child of a Marine veteran affected by asbestos exposure, you may qualify for VA benefits. The Lanier Law Firm is a national mesothelioma law firm with extensive experience working on legal affairs surrounding U.S. Marines asbestos exposure.

Contact The Lanier Law Firm today for more information on VA benefits for U.S. Marines asbestos exposure.

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