Marines & Mesothelioma

Asbestos was extensively used in the military for its heat resistance and durability, particularly in ships, vehicles, aircraft and buildings. While we now know about the links between asbestos, Marine veterans and mesothelioma, many service members were unaware of potential asbestos exposure during their time in the military. Marines with mesothelioma and their families may have a right to compensation.

How Were Marines Exposed to Asbestos?

Marine salutes the American flag

Today we know that asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma in Marine Corps veterans, and that veterans were exposed in a variety of ways. Asbestos was used in the insulation on ships, vehicle brake pads and building materials. Asbestos-containing building materials were also common in barracks, mess halls and military housing.

During maintenance or repairs, asbestos fibers could be released into the air and inhaled. Over time, these fibers can cause serious health issues such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Below are a few of the most common causes of mesothelioma in the Marine Corps.

Asbestos on Marine Corps Bases

Like many structures built before the 1980s, military bases, buildings and housing often contained asbestos in drywall, insulation, pipes, roofing and flooring materials to help make them more fireproof and durable. Families could have been at risk for secondary exposure if the service member brought home asbestos fibers on their hair, clothing or shoes.

Through years of supporting mesothelioma victims, the law firm of Early, Lucarelli, Sweeney, and Meisenkothen (ELSM) has connected several Marine bases with mesothelioma including, but not limited to:

  • Quantico Marine Barracks
  • Parris Island Marine Barracks
  • San Diego Marine Shipyard

Asbestos exposure, Marine veterans and mesothelioma have been linked at many other military locations, such as:

  • Barstow Marine Corps Logistics Base
  • Base Camp H.M. Smith
  • Base Camp Lejeune
  • Base Camp Pendleton
  • Base Camp S.D. Butler, Japan
  • Cherry Point Air Station
  • Guantanamo Naval Base
  • Iwakuni Air Station, Japan
  • Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall
  • Miramar Air Station
  • Mountain Warfare Training Center
  • New River Air Station
  • Tustin Air Station
  • Twentynine Palms Air Ground Combat Center
  • Yuma Air Station

This isn’t a complete list of every Marine base with asbestos. If you or your loved one served in a different location and were diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should still contact an attorney to see if you are eligible for financial compensation.

Asbestos in Vehicles

Asbestos was highly prized for its heat resistance and durability in the high-friction components of heavy machinery and vehicles. Marines with mesothelioma often have a history of maintaining and repairing Jeeps, trucks, armored carriers and tanks, like the M60 Patton tank. All these vehicles used asbestos in the following parts:

These parts could release asbestos fibers during use or repair, potentially exposing service members to health risks.

Asbestos on Ships and at Shipyards

The Marine Corps is a division of the Navy, and the two military branches work closely together. Marines were often stationed on or transported by Navy ships, where they faced potential asbestos exposure due to frequent use of the material and the small, enclosed environment.

Asbestos was used in gaskets, valves, pipes and insulation on all types of ships, including battleships, cruisers, destroyers, escort carriers and submarines. Common areas with asbestos included:

  • Armories
  • Boiler rooms
  • Brakes
  • Bulkheads
  • Engine rooms
  • Galleys
  • Keels

Asbestos on Aircraft

The Marine Corps works closely with the Air Force and also maintains its own aircraft to provide ground support and transportation for its forces. Marines could have been exposed to asbestos on helicopters and fighter planes as well as utility, transport and refueling aircraft. It was commonly used in the following parts:

  • Adhesives
  • Brake pads
  • Electrical systems
  • Engines
  • Exhaust components
  • Gaskets
  • Heating components
  • Insulation
  • Valves

Marines who maintained or repaired these parts were at the highest risk for asbestos exposure. However, due to their confined spaces, any service member who frequently rode in aircraft could have inhaled asbestos.

At-Risk Occupations in the Marines

The military in general has some of the most at-risk occupations for mesothelioma, and the Marine Corps is no exception. Service members who frequently repaired, replaced or maintained products made with asbestos may have been exposed to larger amounts of asbestos over longer periods of time. As a result, those Marines may be at a higher risk for developing mesothelioma.

Job roles at higher risk include:

  • Artillerymen
  • Aviation maintenance technicians
  • Boilermakers
  • Communications technicians
  • Construction crews
  • Electricians
  • Engine room personnel
  • Engineers
  • Infantrymen
  • Mechanics
  • Plumbers
  • Shipyard workers
  • Weapons makers

The Risk of Mesothelioma in U.S. Marines

A mesothelioma diagnosis usually happens decades after asbestos exposure, which makes the disease hard to study. While directly linking Marine veterans and mesothelioma is difficult, studies have shown that merchant marines are more likely to be diagnosed with respiratory cancers1 and shipyard workers have more asbestos-related changes in their lungs.2

The fact that Marines are at risk for asbestos exposure is well-documented. For example, various reports have found asbestos in military housing, including a report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)3 on the housing areas at Quantico. Another recent report from the Department of Defense4 found that not only did thousands of housing units still contain asbestos, but that the military wasn’t properly informing occupants of its presence. Asbestos is known to be the main cause of mesothelioma in Marines and other occupations.

Mesothelioma Compensation for Marines

Marines with mesothelioma, as well as their families, deserve access to compensation for mesothelioma treatment and other costs associated with the disease. An experienced mesothelioma law firm, like ELSM, can help you explore the following options.

Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Many companies that supplied the U.S. military with asbestos products knew of the dangers but swept it under the rug for years. For Marines with mesothelioma, lawsuits against these companies are one way to help pay for medical bills and lost wages. At ELSM, we’ve won $4.2 million for a Marine in California and $2.3 million for a Marine in Virginia, among other successful mesothelioma claims.

Mesothelioma Trust Funds

Some asbestos companies went bankrupt due to the number of lawsuits filed against them and the declining use of their products. They set up asbestos trust funds for mesothelioma victims and their families. An experienced attorney can help you determine what compensation options you are eligible to pursue and guide you through the process of filing a claim.

Veterans Benefits

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides VA benefits for Marines with mesothelioma, including disability payments, free medical care, discounted or free prescriptions and even reimbursement for treatment-related travel expenses. The VA also has specialized treatment centers for mesothelioma in Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Miami and Los Angeles, with some of the best experts in the world.

An accredited attorney with the Veterans Administration is authorized to assist veterans with their claims for disability benefits from the Veterans Administration.

Speak With a Mesothelioma Lawyer

Mesothelioma treatment options are advancing rapidly, and Marines’ mesothelioma lawsuits help veterans and their families pay for the care they deserve. Choosing a mesothelioma lawyer experienced in these types of cases helps you secure compensation quickly.

At ELSM, we have decades of experience advocating for service members with mesothelioma from all walks of life, including Marines. We believe that those who were brave enough to serve our country deserve justice for their injuries. We are proud to help them find justice and help them get the mesothelioma compensation they deserve.

Contact us today to get started. Our passionate team is ready to fight for you.


Does the military still use asbestos?

No, the military no longer uses asbestos in new construction. Older military buildings and equipment may still contain asbestos, posing a risk to service members during renovations or maintenance. Efforts to remove and mitigate asbestos exposure in military facilities and vehicles are ongoing.

Are mesothelioma lawsuits against the U.S. government or military?

No, mesothelioma lawsuits are not against the U.S. government or military. They’re filed against the companies responsible for manufacturing and distributing the asbestos-containing products that caused exposure. Through lawsuits, these companies can be held accountable for the health risks their products created.

Are there VA benefits for Marines with mesothelioma?

Yes, Marines with mesothelioma can access benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including disability compensation, healthcare and support services. The VA recognizes mesothelioma as a service-connected illness if asbestos exposure occurred during military service. A VA-accredited asbestos attorney can help you with the application process.


  1. Selikoff, IJ, Lilis, R et al. Br J Ind Med. May 1990;47(5):292-7. doi: 10.1136/oem.47.5.292.
  2. Lemen, R and Landrigan, P. Int J Environ Res Public Health. August 2021;18(16): 8417. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18168417.
  3. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). May 6, 2004. Public Health Assessment: Marine Corps Combat Development Command—Quantico. Retrieved from
  4. Department of Defense Office of Inspector General. May 4, 2020. Evaluation of the DoD’s Management of Health and Safety Hazards in Government-Owned and Government-Controlled Military Family Housing (DODIG-2020-082). Retrieved from

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