Large numbers of U.S. Marine Corps members were exposed to asbestos during their time in the service. Asbestos has been discovered in the building materials and supplies used on Marine bases and in ships, aircraft and other locations.
Marines exposed to asbestos are at high risk of developing fatal asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma. Marine veterans are eligible to receive additional VA benefits designed to offer aid for asbestos-related illnesses.
Asbestos Use in the U.S. Marine Corps
Asbestos is a versatile mineral that was widely used for decades by public and private manufacturers. The U.S. Marine Corps and other branches of the Armed Forces relied heavily on asbestos as a key manufacturing material throughout the 1900s.
Service members in the Marines, Merchant Marines, Navy and individuals stationed in the Middle East are at high risk of illnesses related to prolonged asbestos exposure, as well as those who worked in:
The dangers of asbestos use became known in the 1970s, at which point the government began changing how it used the mineral. Today, asbestos use is carefully regulated by OSHA and the EPA. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no longer a risk to U.S. Marines of asbestos exposure.
A 2020 study found that service members and their families are at risk of asbestos exposure at government-owned and government-controlled (GO-GC) military family housing installations. There also continues to be a risk of asbestos exposure to those stationed abroad in areas in which the demolition of older buildings releases asbestos fibers into the air.
If you’ve served in the Marines or another branch of the armed forces or lived in GO-GC military family housing, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recommends that you be aware of the health risks and get tested for asbestos-related illnesses.
Marine Veterans at High Risk of Asbestos Exposure
Marine veterans make up one of the highest-risk groups for developing asbestos-related illnesses. This is because Marine bases relied heavily on building materials and products made with asbestos.
Members of the Marines were most likely to be exposed to asbestos in their living quarters and on aircraft and ships. Marines stationed with the Navy or the Merchant Marines were surrounded by asbestos.
Ship parts that contained asbestos include:
Aircraft production was also associated with a heavy concentration of asbestos fibers in the air. Many aircraft parts were made with asbestos, including:
Barracks and family housing installations are also known to have been sources of asbestos exposure for Marines.
Marines are not the only individuals impacted by asbestos-related illnesses. Close family members like spouses and children have successfully gained compensation after developing health conditions due to secondhand asbestos exposure.
The Health Consequences of Asbestos
U.S. Marines often spent years living and working near materials containing asbestos, meaning they’re more likely than most to develop the associated health conditions. The signs and symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses may not show up for 20 to 50 years after initial exposure.
The tiny fibers of asbestos are released into the air and easily inhaled into the lungs. Over time, these fibers build up in the lungs and lead to health conditions like lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. While lung cancer is a more common health condition, the other two are unique to asbestos exposure.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive, fatal form of cancer primarily caused by asbestos exposure. It affects the tissues that cover the internal organs. Mesothelioma is most commonly developed in the lungs, but it can also impact the abdomen, heart and testicles.
All forms of mesothelioma are accompanied by pain and swelling, but additional symptoms depend on which organs are impacted.
Asbestosis is a lung disease caused by scarring in the lung tissue. Damage from asbestos fibers leads to scar tissue, which slowly hardens the lungs. Signs of asbestosis include difficulty breathing and chest pain and tightness. While the condition is not fatal, it takes a significant toll and increases the risk of developing lung cancer.
How VA Benefits Cover Marines Asbestos Exposure
The illnesses associated with asbestos lead to chronic health conditions and shortened life spans. Caring for a loved one with a health condition like mesothelioma can be expensive, adding financial stress to the physical and emotional burden of an illness caused by U.S. Marine asbestos exposure.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers generous monetary benefits to qualifying veterans to cover health issues related to asbestos exposure for veterans and their family members. To qualify, veterans must be able to show that their illness stems from exposure during service. Veterans must also not have been dishonorably discharged from service.
The claims process for VA benefits related to asbestos can be complex. It’s beneficial to work with an attorney well-versed in Veterans Affairs as this can help maximize the compensation you receive.
A legal representative can also help you pursue compensation options if you don’t meet the requirements for VA benefits. Additional options include pursuing a mesothelioma lawsuit or an asbestos trust fund claim.
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 personal injury firm with extensive experience working on legal affairs surrounding U.S. Marines asbestos exposure, mesothelioma and VA benefits.
Our team of experienced attorneys can help you navigate the complex benefits process to ensure that you and your loved ones receive the benefits you’re entitled to.
The health complications that arise from an asbestos-related illness make for a tragic closing chapter to a lifetime of service. Every service member impacted by asbestos exposure deserves the legal representation that will secure them the benefits they deserve.
Contact The Lanier Law Firm today for more information on VA benefits for U.S. Marines asbestos exposure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you get VA disability benefits for asbestos?
Yes. VA benefits exist to cover the cost of treating asbestos-related health conditions. If you have a diagnosis of lung cancer or mesothelioma, you qualify for 100 percent disability coverage. This can make medical treatment free or low-cost.
Is asbestos still used in the military?
Unfortunately, asbestos is still in use in some areas of the military. It was used so pervasively for so many decades that the military is still testing, researching and working to remove products and building materials that contain asbestos.
The risk of asbestos exposure didn’t end in the 1970s—it continues today, impacting both Marines and their loved ones.
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 were caused by 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 Marines asbestos exposure.
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