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Grim News: One Million

New Estimate of Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans Treated at VA Hospitals.

The number of Veterans who deployed to the Iraq and Afghanistan War and subsequently treated by doctors at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals hit the grim milestone of one million in October 2013.   The estimate is based on official VA reports.

Now Americans have the best and most accurate accounting of the human costs of 12 years of war in Asia.  Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans continue flooding into VA facilities at the rate of 10,000 per month as the conflicts wind down.  A similar number of disability claims have been filed too.

VA reports hundreds of thousands of patients and claims for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Widespread News Coverage

On November 1, investigative journalist Jamie Reno broke the exclusive with the International Business Times, the new owners of Newsweek Magazine.  Reno’s groundbreaking reporting was quickly followed by Forbes Magazine, Military.com, and the Chicago Tribune newspaper.

The significant news story was quickly picked up by Veteran Service Organizations.  For example, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) shared the grim news about the consequences of the current conflicts with their 300,000 members.

VA to Resume Releasing Reports

Journalist Jamie Reno revealed that VA stopped releasing the reports in March 2013.  Stung by the publicity and concerns expressed by Congress, VA quickly changed course and promised to release updated reports in November 2013, according to Stars & Stripes.

Why VA Reports Matter

According to the reporting by Jamie Reno, a top government finance expert believes the VA data is important for the public and Congress.  Reno wrote:

Linda Bilmes, a Harvard professor and author of “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” who has testified before Congress about the cost of war, agrees.  “We need accurate data on casualties in order to make decisions about treatment, research, operations and budget.  But we also need to know how much of our medical effort should be devoted to specific conditions such as psychiatric, pain relief, physiotherapy, substance abuse, etc. And regionally, we need to know where the demand for services is outstripping supply.”

 

 

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