Nearly 30 percent of mesothelioma patients are veterans of the United States military. Asbestos once was highly favored because of its heat-resistant and fire-proofing capabilities, making it a valuable material for all branches of the military. All means of military transportation such as automobiles, tanks, ships, and aircraft contained asbestos. Even worse, military housing was constructed with building materials created with asbestos.
War Veterans Exposed to Asbestos
The U.S. military used asbestos heavily and it wasn’t until the mid-1970s that the military decreased its use of asbestos after substantial negative publicity over its toxicity and the associated long-term health problems. Many of the veterans who are diagnosed today were first exposed to asbestos during the Korean War or Vietnam War or soon thereafter.
Though veterans who served from 1940 to 1980 are at the greatest risk of developing health problems from asbestos exposure, those who served more recently also are at risk because it took many decades for the military to remove or eliminate asbestos products.
At some point during their honorable military service, an estimated 22 million veterans who live in the United States today were unknowingly and unwillingly exposed to asbestos. Sadly, there are many current and former soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who eventually will be diagnosed with a disease that is directly related to asbestos exposure.
If a veteran has any known exposure to the toxic material asbestos, then it is in their best interest to become well informed of the early warning signs of diseases related to asbestos exposure and request early screening tests, including a chest X-ray.