Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"You just can't keep sending people into war five, six or seven times and expect that they're going to come home just fine"

That's a quote from a statement by Barry Jesinoski, executive director of Disabled American Veterans, in a recent news item from the Associated Press that recited this statistic: "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." The piece went on to say, "As the nation commemorates the more than 6,400 troops who died in post-9/11 wars, the problems of those who survived also draw attention. These new veterans are seeking a level of help the government did not anticipate, and for which there is no special fund set aside to pay."  And ironically this situation is at least partially attributable to advances in medical technology which has increased the survival rate of soldiers wounded in combat; "They're being kept alive at unprecedented rates," said Dr. David Cifu, the VA's medical rehabilitation chief. More than 95 percent of troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan have survived."

According to the reporting, "Just over half of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans eligible for VA care have used it so far" and the numbers are staggering, including more than 400,000 who have have been treated by the VA for a mental health problem, most commonly, PTSD. and tens of thousands of veterans who suffered traumatic brain injury, or TBI — mostly mild concussions from bomb blasts — and doctors don't know what's in store for them long-term.

The financial implications of this situation for the American taxpayer are staggering.  Here's how the article concluded:  "For taxpayers, the ordeal is just beginning. With any war, the cost of caring for veterans rises for several decades and peaks 30 to 40 years later, when diseases of aging are more common, said Harvard economist Linda Bilmes. She estimates the health care and disability costs of the recent wars at $600 billion to $900 billion.

"This is a huge number and there's no money set aside," she said. "Unless we take steps now into some kind of fund that will grow over time, it's very plausible many people will feel we can't afford these benefits we overpromised."

"How would that play to these veterans, who all volunteered and now expect the government to keep its end of the bargain?

"The deal was, if you get wounded, we're going to supply this level of support," Bilmes said. Right now, "there's a lot of sympathy and a lot of people want to help. But memories are short and times change.""

So here's my question to all candidates for public office:  How are we going to pay for the care that we promised these men and women.  They kept their end of the bargain and fought our (unnecessary) wars for us, so the only question is, will we step up and provide the care and treatment that they have earned with their sacrifice - or does a "no tax raise, ever" pledge to a special interest lobbyist trump your patriotic and moral obligation to our troops?

If we abandon these troops it will be a national disgrace and only those who publicly stand up in opposition to such a travesty will be able to call themselves "patriots" - because those who abandon our troops are lots of things but patriotic is not one of them.


  1. Replies
    1. Well as you can see this is something I feel pretty strongly about. I think it's pretty ironic when "conservatives" wrap themselves in the American flag, wave posters that say "Freedom isn't free" and then protest any raise in taxes to pay for defending that freedom. Grover Nordquist and those who sign his pledge are, to my way of thinking, traitors to the ideals on which our nation was founded.