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Asbestos Exposure in the Army

Asbestos use in the Army was widespread between the 1930s and 1980s. The material could be found in equipment, vehicles, barracks, and other buildings. The human body cannot break down asbestos fibers. Thus, when inhaled or ingested, the fibers gather in the tissue of the lungs and other organs, resulting decades later in asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. The asbestos lawyers at Bergman Oslund Udo Little can help Army veterans and their families get compensation for their illnesses.

Before the 1980s, the Army and other branches of the U.S. military commonly used asbestos in barracks, other buildings, equipment, machinery, and fire-resistant insulation. Thus, service members were frequently exposed to asbestos products throughout the Pacific Northwest, including at shipyards and army bases. 

Asbestos manufacturers hid its health risks for decades, and by the time the military banned most uses, Army veterans were developing lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. These deadly diseases develop over decades, and veterans’ asbestos exposure led to illness 20 to 50 years after their military service.

Asbestos Exposure at Army Bases and Barracks

Asbestos is heat resistant, pliable, strong, and easy to manufacture. Asbestos products were inexpensive, so the public sector and the military used them heavily in construction for insulation, ceiling and floor tiles, protection of heated pipes, and covering electrical wiring. Asbestos coatings were applied on doors, walls, and roofs. 

For decades, Army soldiers faced asbestos exposure while sleeping, working, and especially when tasked with demolition or building repair. Asbestos is the only proven cause of mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly cancer. 

Our asbestos attorneys in Washington and Oregon take great pride in helping Army veterans and their families fight for compensation to help cover medical and other expenses.

Asbestos Exposure in Equipment

Because of its fire- and heat-resistant properties, the Army used asbestos-laden protective gear, such as firefighting jackets, gloves, and blankets. Army vehicles had asbestos insulation in vehicle walls and around mounted weaponry. Brakes, clutches, and gaskets on Army vehicles also contained asbestos.  

Army veterans who wore or were near equipment made with asbestos had a high risk of exposure when those products were damaged.

Asbestos Exposure During Combat

Asbestos products were popular worldwide, and Army veterans in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan faced exposure overseas. The risk was heightened for those stationed in combat zones. When buildings containing asbestos materials are damaged, asbestos fibers are released from ceilings, floors, insulation, and other areas. Army personnel clearing these buildings or nearby were heavily exposed. 

Equipment damage also led to the release of asbestos fibers. For instance, a damaged tank could release asbestos fibers from thermal insulation, around weapons mounts, and from various engine parts.

Army Personnel with Highest Risk of Asbestos Exposure

Certain Army personnel were at higher risk because they were exposed to heavy levels of asbestos at job sites. Their Army duties put them in close contact, often in small rooms with poor ventilation.

Administrative Workers

Army administrative workers faced asbestos exposure due to its heavy use in military construction. If a ceiling panel, floor tile, insulation, or other asbestos product was disturbed or damaged, there was a risk of exposure. 

These workers faced additional exposure if they inspected buildings to take inventory or complete other tasks. They may have been present during maintenance when asbestos fibers were disturbed and became airborne.


Army vehicles had brakes, clutches, gaskets, and hood shields that contained asbestos. Brake work led to high levels of exposure because maintenance often involved grinding and blowout with compressed air. This process released toxic asbestos dust. 

Because of its ability to withstand friction, the Army and other military branches did not wholly stop using asbestos vehicle parts. Instead, it instituted mandatory work practices and controls for mechanics who work on these parts.

Combat Specialists

Combat specialists had high risks of asbestos exposure because they were often in areas where buildings and equipment containing asbestos were damaged or destroyed. They also used weaponry mounted on vehicles with protective asbestos layers around the mounts. 

Army combat specialists faced further exposure in foreign hospitals if they were hurt and when they were sleeping at overseas bases.

Machine Operators

Heavy Army machinery engines and parts were often surrounded by asbestos so that heat generation wouldn’t lead to fires. They handled construction equipment in areas where asbestos was disturbed and drove trucks that had asbestos-containing materials. 

Army machine operators were also tasked with minor maintenance of equipment and machinery, giving them more potential asbestos exposure.


Construction workers in the Army and other military branches faced very high levels of asbestos exposure. Army buildings had asbestos ceilings, floors, cement, roofing, and insulation. Simply moving these products around was enough to disturb asbestos fibers that workers breathed in. 

Remodeling and demolition were particularly dangerous for Army construction workers. They were exposed to damaged asbestos products in high numbers, doing tasks such as pulling up floors or removing insulation.

Electrical and Telecommunications

The Army used asbestos to coat electrical and telecommunications wires to protect them against heat damage. When there were problems, technicians often had to work in cramped, poorly ventilated spaces.  

To correct some problems, these Army workers had to remove the asbestos to get the underlying wires or cables. 

Protective Services

Members of the Army Protective Services were tasked with protecting high-risk individuals, often in high-risk areas. They had to go into crumbling buildings releasing asbestos to determine if they were safe for others. 

Some protective services specialists also enforced standards and regulations on bases, so they spent significant time in asbestos-laden Army buildings.

What Compensation Can Army Veterans Claim?

Army personnel exposed to asbestos who later develop asbestos-related diseases can pursue several avenues of compensation.

Veterans Administration Claims

Army veterans who have any other than dishonorable discharge from active duty can file a claim for benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. If it determines that your mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer were due to your service, you can receive VA benefits such as monthly disability compensation and VA health care. 

You can access free VA claims assistance to help you file. While you don’t need an attorney to file a claim, having an experienced and skilled one can ensure you get the benefits you deserve. Also, if your claim is denied, the experienced team of asbestos attorneys at Bergman Oslund Udo Little can help you through the complex VA appeals process.

Mesothelioma Claims

Researchers started warning of the dangers of asbestos in the early 1900s, but manufacturers continued to make and sell their products despite the risks. Army veterans with asbestos-related diseases can sue manufacturers and suppliers to recover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. 

For more than 25 years, Bergman Oslund Udo Little’s asbestos lawyers in Oregon and Washington have successfully battled large and powerful asbestos-product manufacturers. We use our experience in hundreds of asbestos lawsuits to help you build a strong case and fight for compensation for your Army mesothelioma or other disease.

Asbestos Trust Funds

Thanks to additional research the general public and the military learned about the dangers of asbestos. Following an onslaught of lawsuits, asbestos companies began declaring bankruptcy.  

Bankruptcy courts forced the failed companies to contribute billions of dollars to asbestos trust funds as part of their dissolution. The money was set aside for people with asbestos exposure who were not yet sick. Some trusts are insolvent, but others still have compensation funds available. 

Our asbestos legal team at Bergman Oslund Udo Little can review your case and determine if you qualify for an asbestos trust fund claim.

Why Choose Bergman Oslund Udo Little Mesothelioma Lawyers for U.S. Army Veterans?

Our asbestos lawyers at Bergman Oslund Udo Little understand what you and your family are going through when battling diseases like mesothelioma. For over 25 years, we have helped veterans and their families fight corporations that put profits over people.  

We’ve secured over $1 billion in settlements and verdicts for deserving clients, including the following: 

Our attorneys have been recognized by The National Trial Lawyers – Top 100 and Super Lawyers. Heartfelt testimonials from satisfied clients praise our compassion and ability to change lives through positive legal outcomes.

Contact Bergman Oslund Udo Little for a Free Mesothelioma Case Review

You and your family deserve compensation for your asbestos-related disease. You should have some of your burdens lifted, and asbestos companies should pay for putting profits over people. 

Contact Bergman Oslund Udo Little for a free mesothelioma case review. We will listen to the details of your case with the compassion and respect you deserve and give you an honest assessment of the best next steps to win compensation.

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520 Pike St. #1125
Seattle, WA 98101
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1355 NW Everett St.
Suite 100
Portland, OR 97204
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Representing Asbestos and Mesothelioma Clients Throughout the Northwest.
Seattle Office

520 Pike St.
Seattle, WA 98101

Portland Office

1355 NW Everett St.
Suite 100
Portland, OR 97204

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