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Army Vets Exposed to Asbestos at Risk for Mesothelioma as Well

Unfortunately, one of the populations at the highest risk of developing mesothelioma is veterans of the armed forces.  While Navy veterans have traditionally been in the highest risk profile because of their long stints aboard enclosed vessels that contain high levels of asbestos, Army veterans are at risk as well. 

Many buildings and vehicles constructed for use by active Army personnel prior to the asbestos ban of the 1980s contained unsafe levels of the deadly carcinogen.  Why?  Because the asbestos was deemed extremely useful for its structural and heat resistance properties and therefore added to hundreds of thousands of industrial, automotive, household and construction products. 

It was used in pipe insulation, seals and gaskets, brakes and brake components, floor and ceiling tiles, adhesives – the list goes on and on.  For a more comprehensive list, visit the section of our website that details many more asbestos containing products.

Many  Army machine shops, barracks, storage facilities, even mess halls both off and on base likely contained one or more components manufactured using asbestos.  And bases outside the United States were even more dangerous because regulations regarding the safety of materials and resources provided by third-party contractors were even more lax.  In fact, asbestos was used liberally in places like France and Germany even after the United States had decided that the risk of disease outweighed the benefits.    

Aging Facilities Still Threaten Our Army Vets

But the risk isn’t just to Army vets from past conflicts.  Many of these contaminated facilities are still in use today.  While the use of these toxic materials was banned in the 1970s, the structures themselves remain.  True, many Army bases have been overhauled and the asbestos materials removed, however, there are still hotspots all across the United States and around the world where abatement is yet to occur.

And these asbestos hotspots are becoming more and more dangerous as time goes by.

Army veterans and active duty servicemen and women are at higher risk of developing mesothelioma now than ever before.  That risk has been multiplied because of two crucial factors:

  •  Mesothelioma’s latency period (the timeframe between asbestos exposure and development of symptoms)
  • The structural integrity of existing asbestos materials

Latency Period Means Even Retired Vets Are Still at Risk for Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer caused by asbestos fibers imbedded in the soft tissue surrounding the lungs, has an extremely long latency period.  Research has repeatedly shown that patients can lead symptom-free, seemingly normal lives for decades after being exposed to harmful levels of asbestos fibers before being slapped with a deadly diagnosis.  While many cases here in the United States are diagnosed within 30 to 40 years, some patients do not develop symptoms for 50 years or longer.

That means those Army veterans who proudly served in Korea, Vietnam, the first and second Gulf Wars, and those who were stationed in other conflict zones around the world may yet be hit with this debilitating and fatal disease.

New tests to detect this disease in earlier stages have been developed, including an electric “nose” that can sniff out mesothelioma, but early diagnosis is still difficult. 

Aging Asbestos Puts Current Army Soldiers at Risk

Because many military bases both in the United States and around the world were constructed before the asbestos ban, some of the buildings on these bases still contain asbestos.  And because asbestos materials become more harmful over time, those facilities may be more dangerous today than when they were first built.

The real danger from asbestos comes when the fibers become airborne.  While still intact, asbestos concrete, tiles, adhesives, and insulation are relatively safe.  However, once they start to degrade from age, weathering, or overuse, these substances can release asbestos fibers into the air.  These fibers are easily inhaled or ingested, often times without the victim even knowing. 

Aging and crumbling facilities on Army bases are putting our servicemen and women at risk right now.  This is not a danger that’s just going to go away.  Asbestos materials cannot just be left in place and forgotten about – they need to be removed in order to make these facilities safe.

Veterans Diagnosed with Mesothelioma Can Fight Back

Many Army veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma fear that there’s nothing they can do.  Established laws effectively limit the amount of damages servicemen and women can seek against the United States government.  However, that does not mean that Army veterans facing mesothelioma have no rights.

In many cases veterans can seek restitution, damages, and even monetary penalties against the companies who manufactured, installed, or inspected asbestos products on military bases. 

If you’re an Army veteran diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos disease caused by exposure during your term of service to our country, contact us today at 415-332-4262.  Our expert mesothelioma attorneys have been helping veterans diagnosed with asbestos cancer and diseases for more than 30 years and can help you find the compensation you deserve.