The United States military has a troubled history with asbestos usage and subsequent exposure concerns. Unfortunately, recent news about the Air Force proves to be no exception. Here’s what you should know about nuclear silos and their related asbestos exposure dangers as well as what you should do if you or someone you know has been exposed to asbestos as a current or prior servicemember.

Was the Air Force Hiding the Truth About Asbestos? 

Air Force may have concealed asbestos danger at nuclear silos.

At the close of last year, a report relating to asbestos and other toxic exposure concerns in the Air Force showed that this branch of the military may have concealed the dangerous nature of their nuclear silos, despite official correspondence. 

Currently, the United States Air Force is in the midst of an investigation into the dangers of nuclear launch silos, sites that were officially deemed by the military branch as being safe from health hazards. However, it turns out that this official stance on the safety of these nuclear launch silos is not only incorrect but worse, now that internal documents have been made available to the public, revealing that the Air Force was well aware of the health hazards of these silos for decades. 

Launch Control Centers and Asbestos Exposure

In a surprising revelation that bodes awkward for the Air Force at best, the “wild blue yonder” knew that these locations posed significant health concerns for military and defense contractor personnel, particularly concerning asbestos exposure concerns. Launch Control Centers (LCCs) are located several dozen feet underground and rely on around-the-clock personnel, often in what are deemed confined spaces. Sadly, this means that untold numbers of military and civilian personnel were up close and personal with asbestos and other toxic substances in the human body. LCCs are relics in some ways, suffering from the same issues as other varieties

The Unfortunate History of Asbestos in the Military 

LCCs are relics in some ways, suffering the same fate of being outdated as other military equipment and facilities. This is true from a technological standpoint, but also from a building materials standpoint. Back in the beginning of the post-Civil War era, the United States Military enjoyed profound growth and expansion, thanks largely in part to the industrial and manufacturing revolution that overtook America with the advent of new methods of production and transportation. 

Asbestos is fire-resistant and was used extensively in the U.S. Navy and Air Force.

As a result, the military was developing fleets of naval vessels, followed by more military bases throughout the country. Then came the advent of flight and the subsequent creation of the United States Air Force. Asbestos was already established as the go-to mineral for durability and fireproofing purposes and the Industrial era in America made manufacturing asbestos-containing products (ACMs) cheap, easy, and fast. 

Ironically, the United States military quickly became the most significant purchaser of asbestos insulation products to fireproof ships, planes, and military bases. 

Up until the mid-1980s when asbestos was phased out in favor of safer alternatives, the United States Military used asbestos heavily in their facilities, which is why we should not be surprised that LCCs and other installations manned by the Air Force would contain toxic substances including asbestos. This was simply the status quo in military installations. 

Unfortunately, the status quo has led to untold thousands of workers, military personnel, and family members going on to develop asbestos-related diseases due to asbestos exposure. The Air Force is now having to work backward, seeking to determine how many people have gone on to develop cancer from working in these toxic environments, even though documents dating back to the 1980s revealed that cancer concerns in service members were already known and suppressed. 

Compensation for Service Members, Family Members, and Civilians Alike

While the presence of asbestos in the military is troubling, as well as the suppression of health concerns in the Air Force, you should know that there are compensation options available for current military personnel, veterans, civil service workers in military sites, and family members alike.

Veterans Disability for Asbestos Claims

Veterans can file a disability claim for health problems such as asbestosis, pleural plaques, mesothelioma, as well as other types of cancers linked to asbestos. Long-term exposure is not necessary for qualification and disability compensation from the VA is available to help veterans, as well as providing survivor benefits in some cases. 

Asbestos Trusts

It is important to know that veterans who have been harmed by exposure to asbestos are often entitled to compensation from the asbestos industry as well. This can involve filing a lawsuit, but that is not the only option available. In fact, there are instances where receiving compensation does not involve the need to file a lawsuit whatsoever, such as asbestos Trusts. This option is often the easiest (and quickest) way to receive compensation for asbestos-related illnesses. 

Compensation comes from bankruptcy trust funds that were established by courts to hold asbestos companies liable and ensure a way to pay victims for lost wages, medical expenses, disability, as well as pain and suffering. An asbestos attorney can help ensure that you receive fair compensation based on your eligibility. This option can be used in addition to benefits and compensation received from the VA. 

While trusts are the easiest way to receive compensation, they are not the only way. The first asbestos-related lawsuit took place back in 1934, and ever since, the danger of asbestos exposure has become more and more well-known to the public. While cases for victims were harder to win back then, because of the lack of public documents and medical research made available, the danger of asbestos is now public knowledge. This means that with the proper documentation, lawsuits are much more promising options for victims than ever before. An asbestos litigation attorney with a robust asbestos litigation database can help fight for you each step of the way. 

Getting Help and Compensation for an Asbestos Claim

It is a sad thing that the asbestos industry has been aware of the dangers of this mineral for so many decades. Despite the impressive qualities of asbestos, the willingness to suppress and ignore its health risks has caused pain, grief, and loss for thousands of people, especially veterans. Veterans knowingly risk their lives for their country, but most of them have unknowingly risked their lives by being exposed to asbestos throughout their military career.