According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, out of the millions of veterans who served the country, asbestos exposure has affected thousands during their service.

Asbestos was utilized in many industrial applications throughout the 20th century. Due to its flame resistant and durable qualities, it possessed many of the traits that were needed in construction and the military. Asbestos exposure has affected many industries including power generation, the military, real estate and shipyards.

Asbestos appeared on most ships used by the Navy and in the shipyards they were built in. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs stated that out of the 25 million military veterans living today in the country, hundreds of thousands were exposed to asbestos while on service. Thousands of tons of asbestos were placed as insulation in piping, boilers, sleeping quarters and navigation halls.

At the turn of the 20th century, the asbestos industry became a major enterprise and experience major economic gain and thousands of dedicated employees. Manufacturers of asbestos and the U.S. Navy were aware of the dangers surrounding asbestos and evidence demonstrates any information showing this was covered up. While the Navy had created one of the more formidable and powerful Naval fleets in the world, asbestos concerns were silenced and military personnel was working under a ticking time bomb.

Although asbestos exposure does not always lead to a related disease, frequent inhalation of asbestos fibers will surely raise those chances. Exposure can lead to the development of asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Many mesothelioma symptoms are similar to other disorders, making it especially difficult for physicians to diagnose. Mesothelioma treatments have varied affects on patients because once the disease has manifested, it is usually in the later stages of development. Mesothelioma survival rate varies from patient to patient, depending on many factors. These include age of diagnosis, latency period and cigarette smoking. Diagnosis of mesothelioma can be very difficult too because symptoms my not occur until up to 20-50 years after exposure

United States combat troops stationed in Iraq face many dangers on a daily basis, while performing military operations and facing enemy combatant fire. With over $194,000 worth of asbestos imported to Iraq in 2003, many are unaware to the threat posed because of this. This presents a significant hazard for all soldiers stationed in the country because intense winds and desert sands can carry asbestos dust for long distances.

Military veterans who have unfortunately contracted an asbestos-related illness find themselves in a tough situation. Currently, mesothelioma is not recognized as a service-related medical ailment. This makes receiving compensation and benefits for their wrongful illness a tough task.

However, veterans can apply for Veteran Affairs (VA) benefits for asbestos-related illness and must provide proof that their exposure occurred at the time of their military service.

Many Navy vessels, homes and public facilities could still harvest asbestos-laden materials in older construction materials, brakes, gaskets and clutches. The potential remains for another generation of veteran and civilian asbestos exposure. Individuals should be aware of the hazards involved with this obsolete substance and take the proper initiatives to avoid exposure.