Military Veterans and Disproportionate Asbestos Exposure & Resources

The United States Armed Forces has a long history of asbestos use.

The health of military veterans from all divisions is at risk due to their service-related asbestos exposure.

Those who served in World War II, Korea War and the Vietnam War are the veterans most at risk for previous exposure to asbestos.  During these wars the Armed Forces extensively used asbestos, which was considered a great material at the time.  Asbestos was used in hundreds of military applications and products, most notably for insulation, fireproofing and various applications on Navy ships.

The health of military veterans from all divisions is at risk due to their service-related asbestos exposure.  Even if veterans were in the military for a short period of time, they may have experienced exposure making them susceptible to developing an asbestos-related disease later in life.  Research shows that even a single occurrence of heavy asbestos exposure has the potential to cause disease.  One of the main concerns for military veterans is mesothelioma, a rare cancer that most commonly develops in the lining of the lungs.  Symptoms of mesothelioma can take as long as 50 years to arise from the time someone is initially exposed to asbestos.

The issue of military veterans exposure to Asbestos is significant because while there were 23.2 million (7.6%) military veterans in the United States in 2008, out of a population of about 305 million (per US Census), US military veterans consists of 30% (about 4 times above the population number – see the graph) of Mesothelioma Cancer Patients.

Additionally, this issue could be very significant within our military population in California, but Southern California in particular, because of our high concentration of military veterans.

Per the US Census, the number of states with 1 million or more veterans in 2008 were:

  • California(2.1 million);
  • Florida (1.7 million);
  • Texas (1.7 million);
  • New York (1 million); and
  • Pennsylvania (1 million)


Note:  There is another product out there that builders have been using, i.e. Hardi Backer board (made by company with headquarters in Mission Viejo, CA) which I believe is a superior product but because of the crystalline silica if not handled properly can cause SILICOSIS (which is I think just as bad as Mesothelioma).  Click here for information from OSHA on Crystalline Silica and Silicosis.



For information regarding VA benefits, programs and eligibility,’s Veteran Assistance Department can be reached by visiting

Veterans wishing to learn more about the risks of asbestos exposure and the chances of developing an asbestos-related condition may visit:


And to learn about other resources for veterans please visit:


Click on Name:  Francisco “Paco” Barragán

Commander – UMAVA

Served US Marines (1987-1994) & CA Army National Guard (1994-1997)

(UMAVA is a registered not-for-profit advocating for all US military veterans)

About Francisco Barragan