Mesothelioma in Air Force Veterans
The U.S. Air Force used asbestos extensively in aircraft and military buildings from the 1920s through the early 1980s. As we now know, asbestos exposure can lead to serious illnesses like mesothelioma and other cancers. And while today, new aircraft and buildings are no longer constructed with asbestos, some older buildings may still contain it. It's important for veterans to learn about mesothelioma in the Air Force and what compensation may be available if they’ve been diagnosed.
How Are Air Force Veterans At Risk for Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma in Air Force veterans may be a result of asbestos exposure while they were in the military. Every branch of the U.S. military used asbestos in its equipment, bases and barracks, putting veterans at risk of breathing in hazardous asbestos fibers that become lodged in the lungs. The resulting scar tissue buildup and cellular changes can cause serious illnesses including mesothelioma and lung cancer, decades after a veteran’s service has concluded.
In the Air Force, asbestos was used widely on aircraft due to its heat-, fire- and corrosion-resistant properties. It was also used in a variety of construction materials for bases and military housing. While asbestos products were phased out beginning in 1980, and the Air Force adopted an official system for removing asbestos from buildings in 1986, many veterans could have been exposed before these protocols were put in place.
Air Force Occupations At-Risk for Asbestos Exposure
Mesothelioma in the Air Force could result from prolonged asbestos exposure, especially in enclosed spaces. That means some of the most at-risk occupations in the Air Force include:
- Boiler room workers
- Electronic technicians
- Fire control technicians
- Jet engine workers
Mesothelioma in Air Force veterans’ family members could also have been caused by asbestos exposure. They could have been exposed to asbestos directly, by living in Air Force housing, or indirectly through secondhand exposure if their loved ones brought home asbestos fibers on their clothing, shoes and hair.
Asbestos on Air Force Planes
One of the biggest risks for mesothelioma in the Air Force is from aircraft. Asbestos was used in a number of aircraft components to protect them against fire and heat. It was also used to repair worn down and damaged parts. Anyone operating or repairing a plane could have been at risk, as asbestos was used in:
- Brake pads
- Electrical systems
- Exhaust cones
- Heat shields
- Heating systems
- Joint compounds
Asbestos on Air Force Bases
Asbestos was used extensively in building materials because it made them stronger without adding weight, and it was easily available and affordable. Air Force veterans may have been exposed to asbestos in the following products, especially in high-traffic areas like mess halls and sleeping quarters:
- Ceiling tiles
- Electrical systems
- Floor tiles
- Linoleum flooring
Asbestos materials have been found on Air Force bases and in military housing throughout the U.S. and abroad. While this isn't a comprehensive list, Early, Lucarelli, Sweeney and Meisenkothen (ELSM) has documented cases of Air Force veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma who were stationed at the following bases:
- Brooks Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas
- Eielson Air Force Base, Fairbanks, Alaska
- Elmondorf Air Force Base, Anchorage, Alaska
- Grand Forks Air Force Base, Grand Forks, North Dakota
- Hamilton Field Air Force Base, Novato, California
- Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas
- Ladd Air Force Base, Fairbanks, Alaska
- Laredo Air Force Base, Laredo, Texas
- Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, Maine
- Minot Air Force Base, Minot, North Dakota
- Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas
- U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Vandenberg Air Force Base, Vandenberg, California
Compensation for Mesothelioma Patients
Air Force veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma and their families have a variety of compensation options available to help them cover medical bills, lost wages, travel for medical care and other expenses.
1. VA Benefits
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides benefits to Air Force veterans and their spouses who meet certain requirements. You may be able to apply for:
- Free medical care
- Free or discounted prescriptions
- Travel and lodging reimbursement
- Disability payments
The VA classifies mesothelioma in Air Force veterans as a service-related disability. It has the highest disability rating of 100%, meaning that if you qualify you will get the maximum VA benefits. You need to apply as you would for any other service-related disability, including providing proof that you were exposed to asbestos during your service in the Air Force. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the process.
2. Asbestos Trust Funds
When the hazards of asbestos came to light, many companies that made these products were forced into bankruptcy. As part of their settlement agreements, they created asbestos trust funds, which today contain billions of dollars set aside for victims, including veterans.
An attorney can help you determine which asbestos trusts you may be eligible to submit a claim to.
3. Mesothelioma Lawsuits
If the company responsible for your asbestos exposure is still in business, you may be able to file a mesothelioma lawsuit against them. Some companies that did business with the Air Force include:
- Cleaver Brooks
- General Electric Company
- Pratt & Whitney
- United Technologies
Successful lawsuits can recover mesothelioma compensation in the millions. However, you will need to prove the link between the asbestos products you were exposed to and your mesothelioma diagnosis. It helps to have a team of experienced lawyers on your side who are familiar with Air Force mesothelioma cases and have the experience, time and resources to dedicate to your case.
Legal Support for Air Force Veterans
At ELSM, we believe that those who fought for our country shouldn’t have to fight for mesothelioma compensation. Our caring advocates have won asbestos claims for veterans from all military branches, including $9.4 million for an Air Force veteran in Florida and $4.3 million for one in New York.
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma after serving in the Air Force, contact us today for a free case evaluation.
What are the risks of asbestos exposure in the Air Force?
Air Force veterans could have been exposed to asbestos in aircraft or in military buildings. Those who worked directly with asbestos products, such as adhesives, brakes, electrical systems, heating systems, insulation, drywall, wiring, flooring and roofing, are at the highest risk.
Are there compensation options for Air Force veterans with mesothelioma?
Yes, Air Force veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma could be eligible for benefits from the VA, as well as compensation from asbestos trust funds. They may also be able to file a lawsuit against any companies whose products exposed them to asbestos. An experienced mesothelioma attorney can help veterans determine which compensation options are available to them.
Request a Free Case Evaluation
Request a free case evaluation now if you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. The evaluation will cost you nothing. Our lawyers will travel to visit you at your convenience or conference call with you over the phone. We understand how difficult a time this is for you and will assist in any way that we can. You can also call us toll-free at 1-800-336-0086 at any time.