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For most of the 20th century, the U.S. Armed Forces used aircraft, ships, construction, and other equipment that contained asbestos. Because of this exposure, military veterans make up approximately 30% of all mesothelioma cases in the United States. Mesothelioma is cancer that develops from asbestos exposure. Individuals must apply through the Department of Veteran Affairs to receive VA benefits for mesothelioma.
The honorable men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces face the highest risk of developing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses. Although veterans make up eight percent of the U.S. population, they account for approximately 30 percent of mesothelioma cases.
Military personnel have historically faced significant daily exposure to asbestos, which was heavily used in aircraft, ships, vehicles and armaments for most of the 20th century.
Navy personnel experienced the highest exposure levels due to the use of asbestos to line ships. However, personnel in all branches of the military who worked in shipyards or served as aircraft or vehicle mechanics experienced prolonged high-level exposure.
Veterans who served in the Gulf War, Vietnam or other conflicts were often in close proximity to buildings that had been bombed or otherwise destroyed, many of which contained substantial quantities of asbestos. The brave men and women serving overseas today are still vulnerable to asbestos exposure.