All U.S. veterans are considered to be at risk for developing mesothelioma due to the overwhelming presence of asbestos at military bases and aboard ships and vehicles used by the armed forces through the late 1970s. Navy cases of this asbestos cancer are most common, but Marine Corps veterans face many of the same exposure risks as Navy personnel. The amphibious nature of Marine Corps missions is supported by Navy warships, and such vessels were constructed with a wide variety of asbestos-containing products. Anywhere that heat- and fire-resistant materials were needed, asbestos was often the “go to” solution. Gaskets, boiler insulation materials, and pipe fittings were just a few of the many products that were all made with this dangerous substance. Asbestos was also a component in floor coverings and cement, both on land and at sea.
In the 1980s, the health risks of asbestos exposure became incontrovertible and its use by the U.S. military was curtailed. Unfortunately, many of the ships and military bases constructed before that time remain “in service” even today. That means even present day Marines face some risk of asbestos exposure. That risk is less each year as older ships and bases are refit or retired, and as new safety precautions are put in place.
Service Aboard Navy Ships Carried the Greatest Risk
The poor ventilation and abundance of asbestos used aboard naval warships puts Marines and Sailors that served aboard such vessels at particularly high risk for developing mesothelioma. Asbestos was used any and everywhere that needed durable, inexpensive, heat and fire resistance, from boiler rooms to mess halls and sleeping quarters. And since there is often a significant latency period between asbestos exposure and a mesothelioma diagnosis, U.S. Marines that served in Vietnam may still be at risk for developing the disease.
If you are a Marine Corps veteran that spent significant time at sea, you should be aware of the symptoms of mesothelioma. The disease often resembles the common cold or a chronic cough at the outset. Share your service history with your doctor or oncologist to make sure that any asbestos-related health issues are properly diagnosed.
Marine Corps Veterans with Mesothelioma Have Legal Rights
If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma as a result of your brave service, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injury. Fill out the form on this page for more information about asbestos disease, exposure risks, and your legal rights.