Lung Cancer, Mesothelioma, and Air Force Veterans

Air Force veterans who served before the 1980s were often exposed to asbestos. This cancer-causing mineral was used in U.S. Air Force bases, planes, and other assets for decades. As a result, Air Force veterans are at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma. Learn how Lung Cancer Group can connect you to the help you need after being diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease.

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Are U.S. Air Force Veterans At Risk of Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer?

Yes, U.S. Air Force veterans are at a high risk of developing mesothelioma and lung cancer, two serious and aggressive cancers, because of the wide use of asbestos in the military.

Before the dangers of asbestos were widely known, it was used in U.S. Air Force planes, bases, and more because of its fire resistance and durability. From the 1930s to the 1980s, the naturally occurring mineral was considered safe and cost-effective.

However, when products containing asbestos are disturbed or broken down, they can release microscopic fibers into the air. Some service members who worked closely with these products unknowingly inhaled or swallowed the fibers, putting them at risk of cancer 10-50 years later. 

Asbestos product manufacturers knew the health risks associated with their harmful products but hid the dangers for years to protect their profits.

Thankfully, help is available. Veterans who were exposed to asbestos and later diagnosed with lung cancer or mesothelioma can file for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and pursue legal compensation from asbestos product manufacturers.

Lung Cancer Group may be able to help if you or a loved one developed mesothelioma or lung cancer after being exposed to asbestos in the Air Force. Find out if you are eligible for financial assistance and more during a free case review.

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Lung Cancer and Air Force Veterans

Lung cancer is sadly one of the deadliest cancers among U.S. veterans. It is also one of the most common, with 8,000 veterans diagnosed each year.

While smoking cigarettes is considered the primary cause of lung cancer, a history of asbestos exposure can also greatly increases the risk. If breathed in, asbestos fibers can settle in the lungs, causing irritation and eventually cell mutations that lead to cancer growth decades later.

If you or a loved one served in the Air Force between the 1930s and 1980s, it is important to get routine screenings for lung cancer.

Mesothelioma and Air Force Veterans

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that forms in the lining of sensitive parts of the body, like the lungs, heart, and abdomen. Despite its rarity, veterans make up 33% of all mesothelioma cases.

It is sometimes mistaken for a type of lung cancer because one of the most common types, pleural mesothelioma, affects the lungs. However, mesothelioma is different from lung cancer, and the only known cause is exposure to asbestos.

Additionally, mesothelioma is harder to treat than lung cancer. But, thanks to advancements in mesothelioma treatment, patients may be able to survive for years or even decades.

Our on-staff nurses can help you find life-extending mesothelioma treatment. Connect with a nurse now to get started.

Other Asbestos-Related Diseases and Air Force Veterans

In addition to lung cancer and mesothelioma, asbestos can also cause several other diseases.

Some of the asbestos-related diseases Air Force veterans may be at risk of include:

If you are experiencing trouble breathing or other uncomfortable symptoms and you served in the U.S. Air Force, talk with your doctor about screenings for potential asbestos diseases.

How Was Asbestos Used in the U.S. Air Force?

Asbestos was used throughout U.S. Air Force bases and in aircraft equipment. Learn about how the Air Force used asbestos below.

Asbestos Use at Air Force Bases

On Air Force bases, asbestos could be found in:

  • Cement and concrete products to provide structural strength
  • Construction materials, including roofing, adhesives, insulation, siding, and floor tiles used in building on-base housing, administrative buildings, and specialty buildings
  • Fireproofing sprays or textures to create heat-resistant structures like fuel storage facilities and control towers
  • Insulation in walls, ceilings, and around heating systems to regulate temperature and reduce energy costs
  • Pipes and plumbing to prevent corrosion and maintain temperature stability in water supply pipes, drainage systems, and steam pipes
  • Thick heat shield insulation for special construction projects like aircraft hangars

Over 100 Air Force bases in the U.S. were built with asbestos products, in addition to several international Air Force bases.

Some U.S. Air Force bases that contained asbestos include:

  • Griffiss Air Force Base in New York
  • Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts
  • Robins Air Force Base in Georgia
  • Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas

Asbestos Use in Air Force Planes

The Air Force used asbestos in the construction of planes and helicopters, particularly for insulating materials and fireproofing. Air Force mechanics, engineers, and flight crews were consistently exposed to asbestos particles while performing routine maintenance and repairs, and during flight operations.

Some types of asbestos products used in aircraft included:

  • Brake pads
  • Clutches
  • Exhausts
  • Gaskets
  • Heat shields
  • Heating systems
  • Insulation
  • Wiring

A few examples of how asbestos was used in specific aircraft include:

  • B-52 Stratofortress: Asbestos was used in the insulation of wiring, brake linings, brake pads, and gaskets within this B-52 bomber aircraft, exposing aircrews, maintenance personnel, and ground crews.
  • C-130 Hercules: Asbestos was found in insulation and fireproofing materials in the cargo area, putting loadmasters and maintenance personnel at risk.
  • F-4 Phantom II: Asbestos was used in soundproofing materials, electrical wiring, and gaskets, endangering aviation electricians and aircraft mechanics.

Jobs at High Risk of Air Force Asbestos Exposure

All Air Force veterans could have been exposed to asbestos in various ways while working on bases and aircraft. However, some military occupational specialties (MOS) were at a higher risk than others.

People who may have handled asbestos every day during their work include:

  • Aircraft mechanics: These service members often worked on aircraft that contained asbestos-containing parts, including brake linings, gaskets, and engine insulation.
  • Boiler technicians: Responsible for maintaining and repairing boilers on base, these technicians may have encountered asbestos insulation on boiler components.
  • Carpenters: Asbestos was found in building materials like roofing and siding, which carpenters often handled.
  • Communications equipment repairmen: Repairing equipment housed in older Air Force buildings may have exposed technicians to asbestos.
  • Construction workers: Those involved in construction or renovation projects on base could have handled asbestos-containing materials.
  • Demolition crews: Teams involved in demolishing old buildings or aircrafts may have disrupted asbestos-containing materials, exposing themselves to this mineral.
  • Electricians: Asbestos-containing insulation lined wires in electrical systems, potentially exposing electricians during maintenance and repairs.
  • Firefighters: Firefighters responding to incidents on base could have encountered asbestos fibers released from burning structures or equipment.
  • Pipefitters: Installing and repairing pipes may have exposed pipefitters to asbestos-containing pipe insulation and gaskets.
  • HVAC technicians: Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technicians may have worked on systems containing asbestos insulation.
  • Insulation workers: Veterans who were involved in insulating buildings or aircraft could have come into contact with asbestos-containing insulation.
  • Painters: Paint often contained asbestos, and removing old paint layers to prepare for repainting could release fibers into the air.
  • Vehicle mechanics: Working on military vehicles exposed mechanics to asbestos-containing brake pads, clutches, and more.
  • Welders: Welders often used asbestos-containing protective clothing and blankets to prevent burns during welding.

While the use of asbestos stopped in the 1980s, service members today could be put at risk of asbestos exposure when working in older buildings or on older equipment that still contains asbestos products.

If you are an Air Force veteran and have developed lung cancer or mesothelioma, Lung Cancer Group may be able to help you get the financial assistance you need for treatment and other expenses. Get started with a free case review now.

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Risk of Secondhand Asbestos Exposure in Air Force Families

Family members of Air Force veterans may have been vulnerable to asbestos because of their loved ones’ work-related exposure. As Air Force personnel worked with asbestos, the fibers could get stuck on their hair, clothing, and skin. Loved ones living on an Air Force base could have then been exposed when the veterans returned home for the day.

Secondhand asbestos exposure might have occurred by:

  • Breathing in residual airborne fibers
  • Handling contaminated clothing
  • Hugging and physical contact

Compensation for Air Force Veterans With Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer

Treating asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma and lung cancer can be costly. Thankfully, veterans may be entitled to compensation through multiple options if their diagnosis can be linked to Air Force asbestos exposure. Learn about these options below.

Asbestos Trust Fund Claims

Asbestos companies that went bankrupt were required to create trust funds to cover cases of past, present, and future asbestos-related illnesses if they wanted to stay in business.

There is about $30 billion still available in asbestos trust funds that Air Force veterans with lung cancer and mesothelioma may be eligible for.

Asbestos Lawsuits

Asbestos lawsuits seek to hold the manufacturers of the asbestos products you were exposed to accountable if they didn’t set up trust funds. These lawsuits are not filed against the U.S. military.

If the mesothelioma victim passes before a settlement is reached or a lawsuit is filed, the surviving family members can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit for financial compensation. This allows family members to get financial aid for medical and burial expenses, as well as justice and closure.

Settlements from asbestos lawsuits vary for each person, but some veterans can get millions of dollars. One Air Force veteran who worked as a welder and was later diagnosed with mesothelioma received $4.14 million.

Finding a reputable and experienced asbestos lawyer will help you and your family get the most compensation possible.

Lung Cancer Group can connect you with top asbestos lawyers if you qualify. Get started with a free case review now.

Veterans Affairs Benefits

The VA offers benefits to military veterans who were exposed to asbestos and are now facing asbestos diseases.

VA benefits retired Airmen may receive include:

  • Free or low-cost health care at VA hospitals.
  • Monthly disability compensation worth nearly $4,000 a month as of 2024. Mesothelioma and lung cancer often receive a 100% disability rating, making veterans eligible for the most compensation possible.
  • Survivor benefits for dependents of a veteran who passed away from asbestos-related diseases.

If you were diagnosed with lung cancer or mesothelioma after Air Force asbestos exposure, we may be able to help you access asbestos VA benefits or increase your current disability rating. Call (877) 446-5767 now to get started.

Find Help After Air Force Asbestos Exposure

U.S. Air Force veterans made tremendous sacrifices in protecting our country. Many now face ongoing battles against mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos diseases — but they don’t have to fight them alone.

If you or a loved one developed an asbestos-related disease after serving in the Air Force, help is here for you.

Our team can connect you with the resources you need so you can get financial assistance for treatment and spend more time with your loved ones. See how Lung Cancer Group can help you with a free case review now.

FAQs About Lung Cancer, Mesothelioma, and Air Force Veterans

What military equipment contains asbestos?

Between the 1930s and 1980s, thousands of military assets were built with asbestos-containing products, from brake pads in vehicles to insulation used in plane engines and Navy ships.

If you have mesothelioma or lung cancer, we can help determine where you were exposed to asbestos and fight for compensation on your behalf. Call (877) 446-5767 now.

In the 1980s, the Air Force and all other branches of the military stopped using asbestos to make new planes, buildings, vehicles, or ships.

Further, major renovations were undertaken to remove as much asbestos as possible from existing military assets once the dangers were more widely understood.

However, despite no longer being used in new equipment, service members may still come in contact with asbestos materials in older equipment and buildings, as it wasn’t practical to remove it all.

To prove that you were exposed to asbestos during your military service, you’ll need to have previous service records and medical records.

Our team at Lung Cancer Group can help track down where you might have been exposed, as we have access to a detailed database of asbestos products used by the U.S. military. See how we can help you by calling (877) 446-5767 now.

A mesothelioma diagnosis is typically assigned a 100% VA disability rating. This makes veterans eligible for full disability benefits, often totaling $4,000. It may also allow surviving family members to get survivor benefits after they pass away.

Compensation amounts for mesothelioma. lawsuits range from $1 million to $1.4 million.

A skilled asbestos lawyer can pursue the highest financial payouts for your case. Call Lung Cancer Group now at (877) 446-5767 to get help finding a lawyer near you.

Lung Cancer Group was established by a team of caring advocates so those with lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases can get the help they deserve. Our site provides the most accurate and up-to-date information about lung cancer, its link to asbestos, and financial compensation available to patients. Contact us to learn more and get assistance.

  1. Air Force Civilian Engineer Center. (2018). Final Site Inspections Report of Fire Fighting Foam Usage At Robins Air Force Base Houston County, Georgia. Retrieved January 8, 2024, from
  2. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d). GRIFFISS AIR FORCE BASE (11 AREAS) ROME, NY. Retrieved January 8, 2024, from
  3. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). HANSCOM FIELD/HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE BEDFORD, MA. Retrieved January 8, 2024, from
  4. Mayo Clinic. (2022). Mesothelioma. Retrieved January 8, 2024, from
  5. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2014). Asbestos. Retrieved January 8, 2024, from
  6. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (n.d.). Toxic and Hazardous Substances. Retrieved January 8, 2024, from
  7. Oregon Department of Human Services. Burns Air Force Range – Public Health Consultation. Retrieved January 8, 2024, from
  8. Sokolove Law. (2024). Mesothelioma & U.S. Air Force Veterans. Retrieved January 8, 2024, from
  9. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2023). About VA DIC for spouses, dependents, and parents. Retrieved January 8, 2024, from
  10. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Public Health. (n.d.). Asbestos. Retrieved January 8, 2024, from
  11. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2023). Veterans asbestos exposure. Retrieved January 8, 2024, from
  12. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2023). Screening and diagnosing lung cancer early. Retrieved January 8, 2024, from
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