Like the Navy, the U.S. Army began using asbestos-containing products and building materials in the 1930s. The toxic material was used throughout barracks, mess halls, hospitals and other buildings where soldiers slept, worked and ate. Asbestos could be found in the joint compound, insulation, flooring, roofing and throughout HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems.
Although the use of asbestos in new construction ceased in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the toxic fibers remained present at installations decades later, threatening a new batch of soldiers for many years. Symptoms of asbestos-related disease often do not appear until 10 to 50 years after exposure, and many veterans are concerned about the potential for developing a serious condition like mesothelioma later in life.