A recently-conducted investigation by The Seattle Times concludes that the long-term costs of providing care for the Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will dwarf those spent on Veterans of the Vietnam War.
Based on an analysis of disability payment data collected from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the investigation reveals that while the death toll in Vietnam was far higher –58,000 compared with 6,300 so far in the war on terror – the number of documented disabilities from recent Veterans is fast approaching the size of the earlier conflict.
Given the nature of today’s disabilities, it’s difficult to calculate how much it all might ultimately cost.
“We’re in somewhat uncharted waters,” said Linda Bilmes, a Harvard University professor who has conducted an exhaustive study on the long-term costs of the wars.
Estimates from 2010 indicate that disability payments to Iraq and Afghanistan war Veterans could range from $355 billion to $534 billion over the next 40 years. Additionally, costs to the VA’s medical system could range from $201 billion to $348 billion to treat Iraq and Afghanistan war Veterans.
“Right now, VA is getting about 10,000 new Iraq and Afghanistan claims and patients per month,” said Paul Sullivan, executive director of the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates, which helps veterans file disability claims. “The numbers are devastating.”