Lung Cancer, Mesothelioma, and Navy Veterans

The United States Navy used more asbestos-containing materials than any other military branch, leading to millions of exposures. Navy veterans who were exposed to asbestos and developed lung cancer, mesothelioma, or other asbestos-related diseases may be eligible for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and to pursue asbestos legal claims to help pay for costly health care treatments.

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Navy Veterans With Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer

U.S. Navy veterans are at an alarmingly increased risk of developing mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases compared to other military veterans. In fact, about 33% of mesothelioma diagnoses in veterans are connected to Navy ships and shipyards where asbestos was heavily used. Manufacturers knew the health risks that asbestos-based products posed yet continued to distribute the harmful materials, putting millions of veterans at risk.

Lung Cancer and Navy Veterans

Lung cancer is the second-most common type of cancer in the U.S., and it is unfortunately the leading cause of cancer-related death among military service veterans. Navy veterans are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer due to asbestos exposure. That risk is even further magnified with tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke or other toxic chemicals.

Symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • A persistent cough that worsens over time
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Weight loss

Like mesothelioma, early detection is critical for treatment. Navy veterans experiencing these symptoms should contact their health care provider immediately to get a lung cancer screening.

Our team can help Navy veterans with lung cancer pursue justice and financial aid if they qualify. Learn more with a free case review.

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Mesothelioma in Navy Veterans

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that affects the lining of the abdomen, lungs, heart, or testicles. The most common type of mesothelioma, accounting for about 80% of diagnoses, is found in the lungs and is referred to as pleural mesothelioma.

The only known cause of all mesothelioma types is exposure to asbestos.

When asbestos-containing materials break down or are disturbed, microscopic asbestos particles can be released into the air. When inhaled, those fibers can remain in the body for decades. The fibers can irritate healthy cells and organs until cancerous tumors eventually form.

Symptoms of mesothelioma may include:

  • Abdominal pain or chest pain
  • Appetite loss
  • Blood clots
  • Cough (or coughing up blood)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

Navy veterans exposed to asbestos and experiencing any of these symptoms should contact their doctor as soon as possible to get started on screening options. Early detection of mesothelioma is critical for treatment and a better health outlook.

Other Asbestos-Related Illness Risks in the Navy

Asbestos is also linked to several cancers and asbestos-related illnesses in addition to mesothelioma and lung cancer.

While not a form of cancer, asbestosis is a disease caused by asbestos exposure in which the lungs get stiffer over time. The inhaled asbestos fibers often cause severe damage to the lungs, leading to difficulty breathing and chest pain.

Navy veterans may also be at risk of developing other cancers, including:

  • Colon cancer
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Prostate cancer

To diagnose any asbestos-related diseases, Navy veterans will need to provide detailed service history and undergo physical exams and diagnostic tests, including chest X-rays, CT scans, pulmonary function tests (PFTs), and more.

Navy Veterans and Asbestos Exposure

Between the 1930s and early 1980s, the U.S. Navy used more asbestos than any other military branch.

In fact, many Navy service members may have worked closely with or around asbestos-containing materials and been exposed to asbestos without knowing it. This is especially true for those serving aboard U.S. Navy ships.

All types of Navy ships used asbestos, including:

  • Aircraft carriers
  • Ammunition and explosive freighters
  • Auxiliary and escort ships
  • Battleships
  • Cruisers
  • Destroyers
  • Frigates
  • Minesweepers
  • Oilers and tankers
  • Submarines

A breakdown of Navy use of asbestos and high-risk Navy jobs is listed below.

What Was Asbestos Used for in the Navy?

The inexpensive yet effective fireproofing and insulating qualities of asbestos made it a sought-after product in shipbuilding. Additionally, because it was so lightweight, asbestos was used in virtually every part of Navy vessels.

Aboard Navy ships, asbestos could be found in:

  • Bedding compounds
  • Boilers
  • Cable covers
  • Caulking to seal construction joints or floor tiles
  • Gaskets
  • Insulation, including spray insulation
  • Paneling
  • Piping
  • Valves

When these parts were installed, eroded, or disturbed in any way, asbestos fibers would break off and enter the air, where nearby Navy personnel could inhale them.

Additionally, airflow was often poor on ships and submarines. Asbestos fibers could remain in the air and circulate throughout the ship because of this. Service members who did not work closely with asbestos-related materials or in areas where they were used as heavily may have also been exposed to asbestos due to poor ventilation.

Did you or a loved one develop lung cancer or mesothelioma after serving in the U.S. Navy? Financial aid may be available: Call (877) 446-5767 now.

Navy Jobs at Highest Risk of Asbestos Exposure

While many Navy veterans were at high risk of asbestos exposure, some Navy ratings (jobs), put them at an even greater risk.

Navy boilermen and boiler technicians, for example, worked closely with asbestos every day. Boilers were made with high amounts of asbestos, and boilermen also wore protective gear that was thermal-proofed with asbestos. The laborious work in the boiler room also made it incredibly likely for asbestos-containing materials to be disturbed and release fibers into the air.

Pipefitters also faced significant risk of asbestos exposure. Miles of pipe throughout Navy ships were insulated with asbestos-containing materials. Because pipefitters worked on installing and removing these materials, it is extremely likely that they inhaled asbestos fibers during their work.

Other Navy occupations at high risk of asbestos exposure include:

  • Deckhands
  • Electricians
  • Enginemen and engine room mechanics
  • Firefighters
  • Gas turbine system technicians
  • Gunners and gunnery technicians
  • Hull technicians
  • Machinist’s mates
  • Sailors
  • Shipbuilders and shipyard workers like laggers
  • Shipfitters and steamfitters
  • Submarine engineers
  • Water tenders
  • Welders

Navy Shipyards and Asbestos Risks

Because the Navy used tons of asbestos-containing materials in its ships, Navy shipyards were hotbeds for asbestos exposure.

Shipyard workers handled asbestos-containing materials every day while constructing ships. Like boilermakers, the laborious work would cause more asbestos fibers to be released into the air and inhaled.

Did You Know?

Over 100 shipyards across 11 states throughout the nation used asbestos.

Thankfully, help is available if you or a Navy veteran you love developed asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma, or another illness. Learn how you can pursue military benefits and financial aid. Get a free case review now.

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Secondhand Asbestos Exposure in the Navy

Veterans working on Navy ships and in shipyards were not the only people at risk of harmful asbestos exposure. It is common for family members or other people close to Navy and shipyard workers to experience secondhand asbestos exposure.

Because workers would handle such high amounts of asbestos-containing materials, the fibers could attach to clothing, hair, or shoes. At home, the fibers would then be released into the air, putting everyone in the household at risk.

It is also likely that people who lived near Navy shipyards may have experienced secondhand exposure since shipyard work often sent asbestos particles flying into the air.

Compensation for Navy Veterans With Asbestos-Related Diseases

Many veterans unknowingly were exposed to asbestos every day during their service. Decades later they may be suffering from lung cancer, mesothelioma, or other asbestos-related diseases — many of which can be very expensive to treat.

Veterans do not have to navigate it alone. There are resources available to help pay for their medical bills and other expenses.

Navy veterans with asbestos-related diseases may be eligible for compensation through VA benefits, asbestos trusts funds, and/or asbestos legal claims.

Types of VA Benefits for Navy Veterans

The VA provides a number of benefits for eligible Navy veterans with mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases.

Types of VA benefits for Navy veterans may include:

  • Disability compensation
  • Funeral and burial benefits
  • Pensions
  • Survivor benefits
  • Other compensation to cover household expenses
  • VA health care

Each benefit can help veterans in different ways. Disability compensation and pensions are paid on a monthly basis and can total thousands of dollars in some cases.

VA health care allows eligible Navy veterans to access mesothelioma screenings, treatments, and therapies at VA hospitals. Some of the world’s top doctors treat veterans with mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases through the VA.

Surviving family member compensation provides support for family members of Navy veterans that may have passed due to asbestos-related illnesses.

To determine eligibility for military benefits, veterans should submit a VA claim as soon as possible. The patient advocates at Lung Cancer Group can connect veterans with a VA-accredited attorney if they’re eligible. These attorneys can help veterans collect the information needed to file a claim. Submit a free case review to get the process started.

Navy Asbestos Trust Fund Claims

Navy veterans can also pursue compensation for asbestos-related illnesses through asbestos trust funds.

After facing a slew of asbestos lawsuits, many asbestos manufacturers filed for bankruptcy. This tactic stopped the lawsuits against them as bankrupt companies can’t be sued. However, the U.S. courts forced these companies to set aside funds in bankruptcy trust funds for any victims of their negligence.

Eligible Navy veterans with mesothelioma can pursue compensation by filing a claim with asbestos trust funds. Veterans may be able to file claims with multiple trusts depending on their service history and possible exposures.

Claims with asbestos trust funds do not affect a veteran’s ability to file a VA benefits claim. Trust fund claims are made entirely against the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products.

Asbestos lawyers are available to support veterans in the claims process. Contact the Lung Cancer Group team now to learn if you can connect with a lawyer.

Navy Asbestos Lawsuits and Settlements

Lawsuits have the potential to secure additional compensation for Navy veterans with lung cancer, mesothelioma, or other asbestos-related diseases. Like asbestos trust fund claims, lawsuits do not impact eligibility for VA benefits at all and are typically brought against asbestos manufacturers. Neither the U.S. government nor the Navy are sued in an asbestos lawsuit.

Lawsuits may result in compensation through an asbestos settlement or by a jury trial verdict. Asbestos settlements occur when the manufacturer does not wish to go to trial and will negotiate with the attorney for a fair compensation offer. Some mesothelioma lawyers have secured settlements of $3.5 million, $5.5 million, and even $40 million for Navy veterans with mesothelioma.

Jury trials occur when the manufacturer refuses to pay a fair settlement. While compensation is not guaranteed in jury trials, the best attorneys are prepared to fight for the compensation Navy veterans deserve.

To explore lawsuit options, Navy veterans should reach out to experienced asbestos attorneys. Veterans may also submit a free case review and our patient advocates can connect them with the best asbestos law firm for their case if they qualify.

Help for Navy Veterans Exposed to Asbestos

Navy veterans made a tremendous sacrifice in serving our country. They should not have to navigate life after a lung cancer or mesothelioma diagnosis alone.

Through VA benefits, asbestos trust funds, and asbestos lawsuits, Navy veterans can get compensation and support as they seek treatment for mesothelioma, lung cancer, or other asbestos-related diseases.

The patient advocates at Lung Cancer Group can also help identify where and how Navy veterans were exposed to asbestos and, if eligible, connect them with top VA-accredited attorneys. Contact the team at (877) 446-5767 or submit a free case review to get help.

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.

3 References
  1. American Cancer Society. “Malignant Mesothelioma.” Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/malignant-mesothelioma.html. Accessed on September 30, 2022.

  2. VA. “Asbestos.” Retrieved from: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/asbestos/index.asp. Accessed on September 30, 2022.

  3. VA War Related Illness and Injury Study Center. “Exposure to Asbestos.” Retrieved from: https://www.warrelatedillness.va.gov/WARRELATEDILLNESS/education/factsheets/asbestos-exposure.pdf. Accessed on September 30, 2022.

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