In the 1930s, a “miracle” mineral became widely available and used across the United States military. This fibrous and dangerous mineral called asbestos was very popular for use in buildings, ships, aircraft, and other military vehicles. At the time, the dangers of asbestos were unknown to the military. Most manufacturers and distributors of asbestos products kept the truth about asbestos hidden for decades. By the 1970s, when word of the dangers of asbestos came out, it was too late for many veterans.
Many of the veterans who served in the military from the 1930s through the 1980s developed mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses. The greatest branch of the military to suffer was the Navy.
While the United States Navy cannot be sued for their part in exposing veterans to asbestos, the manufacturers that sold them the products can be held responsible. Thankfully, the VA provides health benefits to Navy veterans who have developed mesothelioma as a result of their time in the service. However, that coverage is small in comparison to the compensation that could be obtained through a mesothelioma claim against manufacturers.
Hundreds of products containing asbestos were used in Navy vessels and buildings. If these products were disturbed in any way during installation, repairs, or removal, they released tiny asbestos fibers. These fibers could easily lodge themselves within the lungs of Navy sailors or shipbuilders, later causing asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma. However, Navy veterans wouldn’t necessarily know right away that they had been affected. Mesothelioma can be dormant for 10-50 years, meaning veterans may not show symptoms until decades after their exposure.
Asbestos products that were used in the Navy included:
As you can imagine, this meant that the majority of ships and Naval vessels were constructed with asbestos products. These products were in navigation rooms, engine rooms, boiler rooms, mess halls, and even in the Sailor’s rooms. They were used heavily throughout entire Naval vessels. (See our list of vessels known to have asbestos below.)
Many of these Naval vessels had poor ventilation, which added to the Navy veteran’s risk level. The air and the asbestos fibers would become trapped in certain rooms and could linger in the air for hours. This provided a greater opportunity for asbestos fibers to enter the lungs of these veterans.
According to the VA, certain Navy jobs had higher risk levels than others of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. These jobs included:
When word of the dangers of asbestos spread to the United States military, they began investing in massive asbestos abatement efforts. While they successfully removed most of the asbestos by the late 1990s, some asbestos remains in many Naval ships, buildings, and barracks.
The benefits available to Navy veterans with a mesothelioma diagnosis pale in comparison to a life lived without it, but they are available. These benefits include:
There are also other legal avenues by which Navy veterans can seek compensation for their mesothelioma diagnosis. It’s recommended to have an experienced asbestos lawyer for these, as they will be able to help you negotiate for the highest level of compensation. These legal avenues include:
Veterans Affairs (VA) also provides benefits and compensation for any Navy veterans exposed to asbestos during their military service and who became ill as a result. This can include:
These benefits can usually be obtained after providing the following to the VA:
The only reason that veterans may not receive compensation for these things is if they were dishonorably discharged.
Asbestos diseases that are recognized and typically covered by the VA include:
At Serling & Abramson, P.C., we’ve successfully represented many Navy veterans in the state of Michigan. Since 1970, our team has worked hard to get Navy veterans and their families the compensation they deserve for what they’ve endured. If you or a loved one has a mesothelioma diagnosis and you need an experienced law firm to represent you legally, we’ve got you covered.
Filing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related claims with Veterans Affairs isn’t as simple as filling out some paperwork. How everything is compiled and written matters a great deal. You could experience some disappointing results if you don’t have an experienced asbestos lawyer to help you get everything organized properly. Our lawyers can help you with this process and walk alongside you until you get results.
Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses are expensive. Between doctor’s appointments, treatments, and long-term care, there’s a lot of money involved in these cases. Getting compensation ensures that finances aren’t an added burden. These can typically be resolved within eight months to a year.
Compensation is determined by a veteran’s disability level and is interpreted on a percentage scale. Mesothelioma and other cancers are automatically granted a 100% disability rating. This disability compensation is then paid monthly. In December 2019, Veterans Affairs increased compensation, and the disability benefit for mesothelioma sufferers now starts at around $3,100 a month. This increases depending on the number of dependents. This disability compensation isn’t affected by a veteran’s age or household income, and it’s paid tax-free.
If a veteran is approved for disability, they are also usually granted access to free cancer treatment through the VA healthcare system.
According to the Feres Doctrine and the Federal Tort Claims Act, the United States military is protected from mesothelioma and asbestos lawsuits. While you can’t sue the United States Navy for their role in your exposure to asbestos and diagnosis, you can sue the companies liable for supplying the military with asbestos.
Many veterans have been compensated with thousands to millions of dollars by filing and winning lawsuits against the companies responsible for their asbestos-related illness. Having a knowledgeable and experienced asbestos lawyer provides you with the best chance to receive the same level of compensation for what you’ve endured. You have every right to seek this compensation, and we can help.
If a loved one passed away from mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness, we can help you file a wrongful death claim, in which you could potentially receive compensation for:
While we understand this doesn’t bring back your loved one, it can help relieve the financial burdens associated with their passing.
At Serling & Abramson, P.C., we have spent the last 40+ years advocating and fighting for mesothelioma and asbestos illness patients and their families.
We have successfully recovered financial compensation for them that relieved the burden that they had felt previously. We pride ourselves on being the first and finest in Michigan for mesothelioma and asbestos litigation. We know the asbestos products that were used throughout Michigan and where the exposures occurred.
Thousands of ships, both commercial and military, were constructed with asbestos products. Commercial ships with asbestos have been harder to track, but it’s been easier to identify ships in the military that typically had been built with asbestos products. Let’s take a look at the types of ships that were built with asbestos products and known military craft that had asbestos.
Used to transport aircraft during wartime, aircraft carriers needed fireproofed structures and were perfect candidates for asbestos product use. Aircraft carriers containing asbestos served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War. Military personnel who served on these ships were at high risk of exposure to asbestos and accounted for 30% of mesothelioma diagnoses. The risk of exposure continues, as many of these ships are retired and repaired for historical purposes.
Here’s a list of ships with known or possible asbestos use and their status in the fleet:
Designed to land ground force cargo and support United States Marines when they’re on land, amphibious warships were and are essential to combat and were insulated with asbestos. They were primarily commissioned in the 1940s to support World War II efforts.
There have been hundreds of amphibious warships that had asbestos products. Asbestos was used on piping throughout the ships and the sailors on these warships were in close quarters with poor ventilation. It’s safe to assume that you should see a doctor to monitor you for symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses if you were ever on an amphibious warship.
Battleships were also built with asbestos due to their need to be able to protect against extreme heat and fire. Battleships carried thousands of passengers at a time, putting them all at risk of exposure to asbestos (most unknowingly).
Here is a list of battleships (and their current status) that had known asbestos or were suspected of having asbestos products onboard:
Over 140 United States Navy cruisers that were constructed and repaired contain asbestos products. Any shipbuilders, crews, or military personnel aboard these is assumed to be at risk of asbestos exposure. They were used in wartime, with appearances in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War. Asbestos was primarily used for insulation and piping on cruisers.
Hundreds of Navy destroyers that were constructed and repaired contain asbestos products. There were over 300 destroyers used in World War II alone, meaning thousands of people were exposed to asbestos. These destroyers were instrumental in offensive and defensive strategies, making them a popular choice in wartime. They were used in World War I and World War II and typically had asbestos in the insulation and piping.
Over 300 minesweepers were responsible for clearing open areas of mines so that larger warships could safely pass through during wartime. These had some of the greatest amounts of asbestos on board, given their job, and were primarily used in World War II. It can be assumed that any shipbuilders, crewmembers, repairmen, and military personnel aboard these minesweepers were exposed to asbestos.
Submarines were also some of the most asbestos-ridden ships in the military fleets, and they had incredibly poor ventilation. Any person who built or spent any amount of time on submarines can be assumed to have been exposed to asbestos.