Mesothelioma in the Marines

The Marine Corps and other U.S. military branches heavily relied on the use of asbestos throughout many of their applications, vehicles, and housing units. The Marine Corps largely stopped using asbestos before the 1980’s, however, due to the nature of mesothelioma and its long latency period (20-50 years), many Marine Corps veterans are still developing mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases decades after their service.

Key Takeaways
  • Asbestos was extensively used across various military branches, including the Marines, primarily due to its heat resistance and cost-effectiveness. Marines were often exposed to asbestos on naval ships and military vehicles, significantly increasing their risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
  • Marine Corps veterans who have developed health issues like mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure during their military service are potentially eligible for VA benefits and compensation through legal action against manufacturers of asbestos-containing materials.

Asbestos Exposure in the Marines

For decades, the U.S. military used asbestos products throughout its operations and facilities. As a result, veterans who served in the Marine Corps before the 1980s are at high risk of developing mesothelioma. This is a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure and that forms on the mesothelium, a thin tissue lining many of the body’s internal organs.

Like veterans in other service branches during this period, Marines were often exposed to asbestos at sea and on land. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you have the right to pursue legal compensation from the responsible parties.

Naval Ships and Shipyards

The Marine Corps is housed within the U.S. Department of the Navy. Anyone serving in the Marines can be assigned to U.S. Navy ships for missions. Marine Corps veterans who served on these vessels or were assigned to naval shipyards had a high risk of asbestos exposure because the Navy commonly used this deadly material throughout its ships and facilities for insulation, fire resistance, and soundproofing. Asbestos was widely used in:

  • Engine rooms
  • Boiler rooms
  • Propulsion rooms
  • Galleys
  • Insulation
  • Pipes
  • Gaskets
  • Paint
  • Fireproofing materials

Service members who worked below deck and in other areas with poor ventilation were more likely to inhale asbestos fibers. Anyone tasked with working near ships or adding or removing asbestos materials was also at risk.

For example, renowned actor Steve McQueen developed mesothelioma in the late 1970s and died in 1980. He blamed his illness on asbestos exposure while removing insulation from pipes aboard ships during his service in the Marines.

Aircraft and Air Stations

Many Marine Corps service members served in aviation units as pilots or auxiliary support. Similarly to naval vessels, military aircraft and air stations were built using many asbestos-containing components, including:

  • Engines
  • Insulation
  • Heat shields
  • Brake pads

Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona is one example of a facility found to have asbestos risks. The facility contained so many asbestos hazards that it was listed as a Superfund site overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1990.

Ground Vehicles

Asbestos was used in military ground vehicles to create heat-resistant fabrics and friction resistance. Asbestos-containing products like brake pads, transmission plates, and clutches were used vehicles like trucks, jeeps, and tanks.

Exposed to Asbestos in the Military?

Marine Corps Bases and Barracks

Asbestos was often used to construct military bases that were more fire-resistant, soundproof, and sturdy. Because the material is so versatile, it was used in countless construction products. Roofing materials, pipe coverings, cement, and valves were just a few of the many asbestos-containing building products.

The following military bases used asbestos in their building materials:

  • Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.
  • Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
  • Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley Butler, Japan
  • Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California
  • Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia
  • Marine Corps Base Hawaii
  • Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California
  • Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan
  • Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona
  • Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina
  • Marine Corps Detachment, Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba
  • Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina

Marine Corps veterans who helped build these bases or were stationed at them may have been exposed to asbestos. A report from the Department of Defense in 2020 concluded that military housing on many bases may still contain asbestos, placing current servicemembers and their families at risk.

Secondary Asbestos Exposure in the Marines

Family members of Marines may also be at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases from secondary asbestos exposure. Marines bringing home safety equipment and uniforms contaminated with asbestos fibers can expose loved ones, including spouses and children. These loved ones may develop mesothelioma many years into the future and have no idea when or how they may have been exposed to asbestos.

For others, simply living on a military base can also lead to exposure as asbestos was used all throughout the bases.

Benefits for Marine Veterans With Mesothelioma

Although the Marines mostly stopped using asbestos materials decades ago, veterans who served in the military before the pause may have been exposed. Further, old asbestos-containing materials may remain in some locations, leading to ongoing risk of exposure.

Unfortunately, Marines who were unknowingly exposed to dangerous materials like asbestos often don’t find out about it until decades later. The Marine Corps and the Department of Defense have enacted regulations and programs to offer benefits for veterans with asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma.

VA Disability

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

A mesothelioma diagnosis warrants a rating of 100% for veterans. In 2024 the baseline monthly compensation for a single veteran is $3,737,85, but this can increase depending on the number of dependents.

VA Pension

A VA pension is a monthly payment provided by the VA to many lower-income wartime veterans. Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma may qualify for these monthly payments if they meet certain service and disability requirements. A veteran’s total family income and net worth must also adhere to limits set by Congress.

Aid and Attendance

Aid and Attendance is a tax-free VA benefit that can be added to your VA pension to assist with daily activities due to disability resulting from mesothelioma. To qualify, you must be eligible for a VA pension and require the assistance of another person to perform at least one daily activity, such as bathing, feeding, or dressing.

Mesothelioma Compensation for Marine Veterans

U.S. Marine Corps veterans are encouraged to seek full and fair compensation after receiving a diagnosis for an asbestos-related illness like mesothelioma. In addition to filing for VA benefits, you can also pursue other avenues toward compensation.

Marine Mesothelioma Lawsuit

You generally cannot sue the U.S. government directly for asbestos exposure. However, many asbestos companies were aware of the dangers of their products and concealed this information to boost their profits. A mesothelioma lawsuit against a manufacturer can allow you to hold these companies accountable and help you secure compensation.

For example, Johns-Manville was a major manufacturer of asbestos construction products. For many years, the company has been the target of class-action and individual lawsuits over asbestos-related illnesses.

Marine Mesothelioma Lawsuit Settlement Amounts

Of course, every case is different. However, treating mesothelioma, a serious cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases can be extremely expensive. It can also cause extreme suffering for patients. Because damages in mesothelioma cases are normally very high, the average settlement amount is typically over $1 million, and some cases are worth multiple millions.

Asbestos Trust Fund Claim for Marine Veterans

When many asbestos companies filed for bankruptcy, they were required to create trust funds to provide compensation for mesothelioma cancer patients and their loved ones. More than $30 billion in trust fund money still exists to compensate eligible victims who file trust fund claims. A mesothelioma lawyer can ensure you meet the eligibility requirements and leave no money on the table.

Contact Veterans Guide to Hire a Mesothelioma Lawyer

Veterans who became ill due to asbestos exposure connected to military service have the right to pursue legal action against the responsible parties. If you or someone you love was exposed to asbestos while serving in the Marine Corps, contact us today to get in touch with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer. Do not wait to take legal action.

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