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Recent Wars Rival Vietnam in Costs for Veteran Care

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, center, along with Brian Zalewski, prosthesist practitioner, observes Marine Lance Cpl. Jese Shag as he takes his first steps with his new prosthetic leg.: Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anastasia Puscian.

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.”

0 Response

  1. DARLENE CLEMONS

    Thank you. I understand the $$$$ but ALL WARS we served in are just as important..I served as an Army Combat Nurse in Vietnam on the Neurosurgery ward. Some of the young, brave soldiers had never been away from home, and those who did ‘make it,’ were never the same. We nurses could Not show our emotions, but it doesn’t make our service to our Country any less important. My dad served in WW II in the Army Air Corps, over in the China/Burma/India for 3years. He never asked for anything from the Government and was very ill after he returnedhome. No Soldier, no matter their rank, where, when they served ,should be forgotten when it comes to Service-Connection benefits. My tour in ‘Nam over 41years ago, just seems like yesterday and my memories and flashbacks of those young, brave soldiers are with me every day of my life. The government needs to assist each of us who served and not just the ‘current war,’ but those of us who have been suffering since our ‘unpopular Vietnam War,’ and I also respect the soldiers who are returning over the last ten (10) years. However, it does not make those of us who served in ‘Nam any less important nor we should not just be pushed aside and the VA waiting for us to ‘either die and or ‘go away.’ The WW II Veterans, the Great War, they are still waiting as the Korean Vets and just recently the Agent Orange backlog, not to mention the Gulf War, Desert Storm and the neurological symptoms those brave men and women have suffered with. I am a proud American, and Vietnam Veteran, Army Nurse Corps, but I am not proud of how we have been treated and seem to have to literally ‘fight’ for any type of benefit, which is already documented in our original Military Active duty file which the Regional Office has in their possession. Thanks for your time.

  2. Ms. Clemons,

    Thanks for your comment and for your service. I agree with you that all Veterans, regardless of when they served, deserve the benefits they earned through their service to our country.

  3. wil

    the va was glad to see us leave active duty. they offered no help, no guidance. we were on our own after our tours were over. we didnt know what to do. 43 years later i’m still battling tbi and ptsd…..and batteling for help, benefits. Darlene is positively on the mark.

  4. wil

    the va was glad to see us leave active duty. they offered no help, no guidance. we were on our own after our tours were over. we didnt know what to do. 43 years later i’m still battling tbi and ptsd…..and batteling for help, benefits. Darlene is positively on the mark. And now i battle for my youngest son. the va destroys families with its negligence. now my boy suffers too.

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