Veterans With Mesothelioma

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Jennifer Lucarelli Legal Advisor and Contributor

Veterans comprise 30% of mesothelioma diagnoses, according to industry reports. From 1930 to 1980, widespread asbestos use in all branches of the military led to exposure. Veterans who develop an asbestos-related disease may be eligible for VA benefits or other compensation.

Key Facts

Percentage of Mesothelioma Diagnoses Among Veterans


Branches of the Military in the 20th Century Used Asbestos

1930 – 1980

Highest Risk Years for Asbestos Exposure in the Military

VA Claims

Compensation, Trust Funds & Mesothelioma Lawsuits for Veterans With Mesothelioma

01. VA Benefits

Veterans Benefits for Mesothelioma

Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma can seek a variety of disability benefits. One way is through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). VA compensation for asbestos exposure may be available for eligible veterans with mesothelioma. Veterans with asbestos illnesses may also pursue compensation through other options, like lawsuits and trust fund claims against asbestos manufacturers.

Who Is Eligible for Asbestos Disease VA Benefits?

Photo of veteran with flag

Any veteran diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease may be eligible for compensation. Eligibility depends on whether asbestos exposure occurred during military service and other factors. Family members of a veteran who died from an asbestos-related disease also have options. They may be eligible for VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC).

Types of Benefits for Veterans With Mesothelioma

Veterans with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases may be eligible for compensation. Depending on an individual’s case, they may qualify for different types of asbestos benefits from the VA.

VA Benefits

The VA offers compensation options for veterans with mesothelioma. Individuals may be eligible for different VA claim and compensation options.

VA Disability Compensation

Veterans with a service-related disability may be eligible for monthly disability compensation. This benefit covers mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

VA Pension

Veterans with mesothelioma may be eligible for VA pension benefits. To be eligible, veterans must meet the age and disability criteria and certain income and net worth limitations.

Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)

Veterans with certain disabilities, or special circumstances around their disabilities, may be eligible for additional monthly compensation. Family members such as spouses may also be eligible.

Other Compensation Options for Veterans

Asbestos Trust Funds

Veterans may be eligible to file a claim against an asbestos trust fund.

Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Veterans may be able to file a lawsuit against a solvent asbestos company.

Mesothelioma Settlements

Some companies may settle with a veteran to avoid going to court.

Mesothelioma Compensation Options for Dependents of Veterans

Dependents of veterans may also be eligible for VA benefits. The family of a veteran who passed away from a service-related asbestos disease may be eligible for special VA compensation, such as mesothelioma burial benefits.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a monthly benefit. The surviving spouse, child or other dependents of the veteran may receive DIC.

Photo of woman reading

A surviving spouse of a veteran who died from mesothelioma may receive nearly $1,600 in monthly compensation.

Asbestos-Related Diseases Qualified for VA Benefits

VA benefits may vary according to the severity of the asbestos-related disease. Veterans diagnosed with one of the following diseases may qualify for VA benefits:

Photo of man being examined by a doctor

VA Rating for Common Asbestos-Related Diseases

100% disability rating

Asbestos Lung Cancer:
100% disability rating

0 – 100% disability rating, depending on testing

Compensation from the VA may vary based on the asbestos-related disease. Monthly VA disability compensation depends on a disability rating. VA disability ratings for some asbestos conditions can vary based on severity of illness.

For example, the disability rating for asbestosis can range from 0% to 100%. The VA rates mesothelioma at 100% disability rating. With this rating, individuals with no dependents may receive upwards of $3,000 a month. A mesothelioma lawyer can help veterans determine the best benefit, or combinations of benefits, for their situation.

02. Filing VA Claims

How to File an Asbestos VA Claim

Veterans with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease will most likely file a VA claim for a post-service disability. Veterans should speak with a mesothelioma lawyer to begin the process of filing a VA claim. Experienced mesothelioma law firms can assist veterans through the VA claims process.

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What Is Required to File a VA Claim?

  • Evidence of an asbestos-related diagnosis due to asbestos exposure in the military
  • Records of duties involving asbestos exposure during military service

03. Veteran Asbestos Exposure

Veterans and Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos was commonly used in U.S. military branches. The mineral was largely used for fireproofing, heat resistance and durability purposes. The widespread use of asbestos puts veterans at higher risk for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

Photo of Navy Ship

The military predominantly used asbestos from 1930 to 1980. Asbestos is still found in military bases and older equipment used today.

Military Locations With Asbestos Use

Asbestos use was common across all branches of the U.S. military in the 20th century. The mineral was used in aircraft, equipment, military bases and ships.

Researchers suggest ships were among the most dangerous sources of asbestos exposure for service members. Asbestos was widely used on ships. Damage to the asbestos materials could create highly concentrated areas of the carcinogenic fibers. Veterans in the U.S. Navy and other branches that spent time aboard ships, such as the U.S. Marine Corps, may have been exposed while at sea. According to an industry report, 55% of mesothelioma claims filed in 2021 alleging military exposure listed the Navy as a jobsite.

All veterans may have experienced exposure to asbestos products while in the military. However, common exposure scenarios may vary between military branches.

Common Places for Exposure to Asbestos in the Military:

  • Aircraft
  • Ammunition storage rooms
  • Machinery rooms
  • Mess halls
  • Military sleeping quarters and barracks
  • Military vehicles
  • Ships
  • Shipyards
  • Training facilities

Chart illustrating the risks of asbestos on ships

“Each time they fired the guns, the dust would fall into our beds.”

– Boilerman, E2, USS Uhlmann, 1959 – 1963, Navy Veteran

04. Exposure by Branch

Asbestos Exposure by Military Branch

Asbestos was used widely across the branches of the armed forces in the 20th century. Each veteran’s asbestos exposure scenario is unique. However, some common instances of exposure have occurred among members of the same service branch. For example, U.S. Navy members may have experienced exposure from asbestos materials used on ships and in shipyards.

Asbestos Exposure in the U.S. Navy

Navy veterans were often the most at risk of asbestos exposure. Ships, shipyards, engine and boiler rooms all contained asbestos. In these tight spaces, fibers could become highly concentrated and pose a higher exposure risk.

More About The U.S. NavyMore on the U.S. Navy
Asbestos Exposure in the U.S. Air Force

Air Force veterans were at high risk of asbestos exposure. During active duty, these veterans were often exposed to asbestos through plane machinery and living quarters on base.

More About the U.S. Air ForceMore on the U.S. Air Force
Asbestos Exposure in the U.S. Marine Corps

Marine veterans faced asbestos exposure when aboard ships. Similar to Navy ships, Marine vessels had asbestos in engine and boiler rooms.

More About the U.S. Marine CorpsMore on the U.S. Marine Corps
Asbestos Exposure in the U.S. Coast Guard

Coast Guard veterans were often exposed to asbestos through time spent aboard ships. Coast Guard Cutter crews are among the most at-risk Coast Guard veterans.

More on the U.S. Coast Guard
Asbestos Exposure in the U.S. Army

Army veterans were often exposed to asbestos while on base or through military vehicles. Asbestos exposure may be less likely for those who did not frequently spend time on ships. However, any exposure can result in asbestos-related illnesses.

More on the U.S. Army
05. Other Asbestos Exposure

Other Asbestos Exposure Related to the Military

Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma. The health risks related to asbestos exposure were well known as early as the 1920s. However, veterans continued to be exposed for decades through asbestos in products like pipes, insulation and adhesives. These products were present on ships and bases, in vehicles and other locations. But for many, the risk of exposure carried over into their home life and subsequent careers.

Secondary Asbestos Exposure From the Military

Secondary exposure involves asbestos fibers brought home on a person’s clothing, hair or body. Veterans may have exposed their loved ones to asbestos.

Examples of Secondary Exposure From the Military:

  • Cleaning military uniforms or other clothing worn during service, training or anytime on base
  • Hugging the veteran in their uniform or otherwise asbestos-contaminated clothing
  • Riding in cars containing asbestos fibers

Photo of veteran hugging daughter

Veteran Asbestos Exposure Following Service

Many service members found employment after the military in related fields. Veterans may have worked in the private sector as construction workers, mechanics and engineers, among others. These occupations are at high risk of asbestos exposure. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Continued long-term exposure can increase the risk of developing asbestos-related diseases. 

Photo of carpenter building a roof

06. Treatment for Veterans

Mesothelioma Treatment for Veterans

Veterans with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease are eligible for medical treatment at one of the many VA treatment centers across the country. Many VA treatment centers specialize in the treatment of mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases.


California has one of the highest incidence rates of mesothelioma in the country and was the site of many military bases. Currently, California has more than 30 military bases.

Veterans diagnosed with asbestos diseases in California may receive care from Dr. Robert Cameron at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center.


Florida has more than 20 military bases. Veterans who served at other bases across the country may find themselves retired in the area.

Floridians affected by asbestos exposure related to the military may receive care from Dr. Nestor R. Villamizar Ortiz. He treats patients at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, a short drive from the Miami VA Medical Center.

Veteran Care Options Outside the VA System

Veterans can also opt to receive care outside the VA system. They may qualify for financial assistance for travel and lodging related to treatment.

Find Mesothelioma Doctors & Cancer Centers Near You

Find Mesothelioma Doctors & Cancer Centers Near You

Treatment Options for Veterans Who Don’t Want to Travel

Veterans who do not want to travel or are unable to travel for treatment have options. They may participate in the Veterans Community Care Program (an updated version of the Veterans Choice Program).

The Veterans Community Care Program allows eligible veterans to receive care from a neighborhood provider or another mesothelioma specialist instead of through a VA facility.

Photo of doctor and patient

VA Treatment Centers

There are more than 1,000 VA health care facilities in the United States. Veterans diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease may receive care at any of these specialized facilities. Many of these facilities collaborate with other expert cancer centers nearby.

West Los Angeles VA Medical Center

VA Boston Healthcare System

07. Common Questions

Common Questions About Mesothelioma and Veterans

  • What claim options are available specifically for veterans?
    Veterans may file a VA claim to receive disability compensation as a result of their asbestos exposure and related diagnosis. Veterans may also be eligible to file a mesothelioma lawsuit.
  • What is the time limit for filing a mesothelioma disability claim with the VA?
    VA claims to receive disability compensation can be filed at any time. VA claims are separate from mesothelioma lawsuits, which involve statutes of limitations that vary by state.
  • Who is eligible for VA benefits?
    Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma may be able to receive compensation through a VA disability claim. Spouses of veterans who have died from an asbestos-related illness as a result of their service may be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
  • Is mesothelioma a VA disability?
    The VA considers mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases as service-related disabilities. Veterans diagnosed with an asbestos illness may be eligible for disability compensation from the VA. The amount of compensation will vary based on several factors, including the specific diagnosis. This compensation can help cover medical expenses.
  • Does the military still use asbestos?
    U.S. military branches no longer actively use asbestos. The mineral was widely used across nearly all branches until the late 1970s. Old uses of asbestos may still be present at military bases, in old equipment and on ships.