Many people do not know that nearly one-third of all cases of diagnosed mesothelioma are traced back to asbestos on navy ships and other military-based sources. This tragedy has cost thousands of American vets their lives and left the U.S. military in hot water over the negligence and blatant irresponsibility linked with asbestos usage and its resulting consequences.
Though virtually all branches of the United States military—including the army, coast guard and air force—were responsible for using asbestos products, no branch made greater use of them than the navy. As a result, the vast majority mesothelioma veterans hail from that branch in particular.
The history of asbestos on navy ships dates back largely to the early part of the 20th century. In response to the rapid and pressing demand for vessel construction amidst the two World Wars, the navy was forced to find ways to mass-produce an unprecedented number of battleships in a very short span of time. To that end, in 1939, the navy issued a mandate, declaring that asbestos would be the go-to material used in these rapid-fire construction projects.
Asbestos was the gold standard of combat-grade construction because it held two key qualities that were necessary for withstanding enemy attack—strength and resistance to both heat and fire.
During the WWII through Korean War era, it was not unusual for any given shipyard to contain more than three-hundred different asbestos-containing products. Literally, the ships themselves were constructed by asbestos from floor to ceiling. Everything from cement to insulation to ceiling tiles most likely contained millions of asbestos fibers—later revealed to be the vastly predominant cause of mesothelioma cancer and other related illnesses. Asbestos on navy ships was not only found in combat-related areas either—it was in the sleeping quarters, mess halls and everywhere else in between. Even those not involved in active combat—like janitors and cooks—were risking their lives without even knowing it.
The great tragedy of veterans and mesothelioma comes with the fact that most manufacturers of asbestos products were aware of its life-threatening health consequences as early as the 1920s. Yet because of conspiracy-scale industry cover-ups and massive government failure to intervene, the military did not cease routine usage of asbestos until the 1970s. Thus, any veteran who was enlisted prior to that time was very likely exposed to asbestos on navy ships.
Disability benefits are available to those affected by this wide-reaching military health crisis, accessible through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. However, those funds are hardly enough to compensate for the large-scale devastation caused by the loss of thousands and thousands of innocent lives. Anyone affected by military asbestos exposure is strongly advised to seek additional compensatory damages with the help of a qualified attorney and the U.S. legal system.