My local paper, the Chambersburg Public Opinion, carried an Associated Press article on Monday:
Almost Half of New Vets Seek Disability
A staggering 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related. That is more than double the estimate of 21 percent who filed such claims after the Gulf War in the early 1990s, top government officials told The Associated Press.
What's more, these new veterans are claiming eight to nine ailments on average, and the most recent ones over the last year are claiming 11 to 14. By comparison, Vietnam veterans are currently receiving compensation for fewer than four, on average, and those from World War II and Korea, just two.
It's unclear how much worse off these new veterans are than their predecessors. Many factors are driving the dramatic increase in claims — the weak economy, more troops surviving wounds, and more awareness of problems such as concussions and PTSD. Almost one-third have been granted disability so far.
Bottom line is that if we put troops in harm's way, and they get harmed, then we have the moral obligation to take care of them. Forever. No brainer. I've previously blogged here about the Earth-Bound Misfit's common-sense take on this:
If we, as a nation, are unwilling to shoulder the financial burden of caring for our military retirees and veterans, then this is what we should do: Stop making so many veterans by getting into wars. When the shooting starts, there are going to be maimed veterans who will need care for the next eighty years. If that cost is unacceptable to the politicians, then stop sending men and women off to fight. No fighting, no combat veterans to care for-- that should be a simple enough equation for even most politicians to grasp.
And here's another almost-unnoticed fact from the AP article if you clicked over. If you are deemed 100% disabled, you get $2,769 a month. That's $33,228 a year, not a whole lot if you are totally disabled. Locally I occasionally read about fundraisers to build or fix up homes for vets now wheelchair-bound, and I gotta say, "This community spirit is commendable, but why isn't it the government fixing up this person's house to accommodate disability?" He or she got hurt on the government's auspices.