soldier with his daughter

Military members have been working with asbestos for decades. Exposure to asbestos dust has contributed to 1/3 of veterans developing cancer, including about 10% who develop mesothelioma. The disease still in search of a cure is an aggressive and rare type of cancer that forms around the lining of the lungs, abdomen, and heart.

In a recent report by the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, an independent unit of the Department of Defense (DoD),  discovered active military, veterans, and their families are getting exposure to asbestos in government-owned and government-controlled housing. The U.S. Department Of Defense failed to protect them.

Inaccurate Records: Puts Loved Ones At Risk

In September of 2018, Congress requested that the Department of Defense evaluate military homes, to find out whether or not members of the military and their families were at risk of being exposed to asbestos.

The evaluation resulted in inaccurate record keeping of asbestos-containing materials, and therefore, officials could not determine the risk of exposure to asbestos. Also, in about six other locations, families were not notified of exposure to asbestos nor its presence.

In the past, officials believed that loved ones of military service members, were exposed to asbestos, but in a minimal and reduced capacity, mostly by touching and cleaning their loved one’s asbestos clothing or through hugging. But now, officials are have found families have been exposed to asbestos directly in their homes for decades.

DoD’s Hole-Filled Policies

These policies layout the directives the DoD is supposed to provide military members and their families:

  • Quality, affordable living standards
  • Manage and maintain housing units effectively and cost-efficiently
  • Well-maintained, hazardous free and structurally sound housing

The DoD office of the Inspector general’s inspection found that the DoD failed to provide these housing standards and ensure the health and safety of the residents living there.

It is evident, according to the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, their guidelines are flawed and not well managed. Unfortunately, because the DoD’s policies have holes, it will cause continued asbestos exposure to military, veterans, and their families.