Asbestos Risk for Army Veterans
Asbestos exposure for Army veterans occurred in many aspects of their military careers. Asbestos products were used in building their barracks, military vehicles, aircrafts and helicopters. The U.S. Army consistently used asbestos in building materials and manufacturing. Army veterans were exposed to asbestos from World War I until asbestos was regulated in the 1970s and 80s. However, foreign nations such as Iraq still allow asbestos to be used and Army soldiers have been exposed during military operations there.
Army installations in the United States contained massive amounts of asbestos. Even though a majority of these bases and installations were closed, the asbestos exposure had already occurred during most of the 20th century. That means Army personnel were breathing in asbestos dust and fibers for more than 60 years. Now that these Army veterans are aging, we are beginning to see a high number developing mesothelioma. To make matters worse, asbestos has remained in many structures even after the new asbestos regulations were installed decades ago. This means that many Army veterans from recent years may have been exposed to asbestos and have the potential to develop mesothelioma.
Where Did Army Veterans Get Exposed to Asbestos?
Unfortunately, asbestos was used in almost every base, barrack, installation, vehicle and aircraft in the Army for decades. For over 60 years, soldiers were being exposed to asbestos during World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Cold War and even the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Army Installations, Buildings and Barracks
Almost all Army buildings were constructed to be fire resistant in case of an attack or accidental fire. Since asbestos was used for this purpose in the buildings where soldiers worked and lived, they were exposed to this mesothelioma-causing substance. Just like many construction materials used in people’s homes during the early and mid-1900s, the Army used similar materials that contained asbestos, including:
- Ceiling tiles
- Flooring tiles
- Electrical wiring
- Roofing materials
These Army installations were constructed and maintained by soldiers. These Army personnel were in direct contact with asbestos on a daily basis. So if you built or maintained Army structures, the chances are that you were exposed to asbestos. Now the Army Corps of Engineers, which originally handled the construction and maintenance of these Army installations, is now removing asbestos from the buildings.
Army vehicles made prior to the Vietnam War most likely contained asbestos. Since asbestos has heat-resistant properties, it was used to make gaskets, brake pads, heating shields and systems, and many more vehicle parts. If you were an Army mechanic, then the chances are that you were exposed to asbestos.
During WWII and military operations in Europe and the Pacific theaters, more than 60,000 aircraft were built in only four years. These aircraft contained asbestos in their engines, cockpits, firewalls and heating systems. Army personnel who flew in the aircraft were exposed to asbestos, and the mechanics who kept the machines running were exposed to asbestos.
What Should Army Veterans Diagnosed with Mesothelioma Do?
Army veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma may want to file a lawsuit against the company that manufactured an asbestos product used by the Army. To get more information on filing a mesothelioma lawsuit, visit our section on Legal Options.