To hear some people talk about it, the Nation can no longer afford to provide Health Care and Disability payments to Our Veterans. The Obama Administration says they need to pay for their own health care to a greater degree. We "all" need to "share in the sacrifice." And others point to 10 years of war and question how we could possibly afford to fulfill Our National promise and obligation to those that volunteered to put their lives in harm's way. Surely, the number of Veterans in the Nation is rising, and the number that have earned disability checks and care for their injuries is rising as well, right?
No. As of 2007 (VA's most recent information), there were 3x as many Veterans over 65 than under 40. Of Our Living Veterans, more than 39% are over 64. In fact there were twice as many Veterans over 80 than there are Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. As of the end of 2006, according to CBS (in 2009), 947,000 Viet Nam Veterans were receiving compensation for their disabilities. This compares to only 181,000 current conflict Veterans receiving compensation (of at least $1). "Officially" we've been at war longer, and in two Nations, than we were in Viet Nam, though that doesn't account for the early years of the Viet Nam War.
Why are there so many more Viet Nam Veterans than current conflict Veterans? A greater burden has been placed on a smaller number of people. In Viet Nam, a very high percentage of Veterans did one deployment and one term of enlistment. In today's conflicts, a very high percentage of Troops have served multiple tours. And we have fewer Troops deployed.
But how does the Obama Administration get away with it? Well, the US Government is "self-insured." That means they decided that since they have a limitless supply of money, they decided they didn't need to buy Worker's Compensation Insurance, that they'd pay out of our taxes for the costs of the injuries sustained in the workplace, including those in Basic Training and in Combat Zones.
The Troops don't have a Union and can't have one. We can't have Our Troops going on strike, and they don't want to strike and don't want a Union. But that also means that they must rely on the American People to force politicians to do the right thing. They must rely on Veterans and Veterans Organizations like the VFW and American Legion to keep the American People informed, and the pressure on politicians to do right by the Veterans they sent into harm's way on our behalf.
At one time, Veterans made up a huge portion of Americans, but the number is shrinking, quickly. And the number of future Veterans, i.e. currently authorized Troops, is also shrinking. Less than 8% of Americans (300 Million) were Veterans (23.8 Million) of any era, peacetime or war, in 2007. That is down significantly from more than 26 Million Veterans in 2000. By 2010, the number of living Veterans (including new Veterans) had shrunk by at least 100,000, despite two wars or even more according to another VA statistic (22.34 Million, or 1.5 Million fewer Veterans) from 9/2010. The VA projects that close to 250,000 WWII Veterans will die in 2011, along with 150,000 Korean War Veterans, and 125,000 Viet Nam Era Veterans, in addition to the numbers that served pre-1941, between the Korean and Viet Nam Wars, and after it. Let's face Veterans are a dying breed.
CBS tells us that the number of "disabled Veterans" has increased by 25% since 2001, without telling us that that equates to an increase of 580,000, to 2.9 Million. That's 12.2% of the total number of Veterans in 2007. This contrasts with their number of 181,000 (less than 6% of Veterans under 40 years old) current conflict Veterans receiving a disability check. Meanwhile, 947,000 Viet Nam Veterans (of 7.4 Million Viet Nam era Veterans) or 12.8% are receiving disability compensation. So, we have a disparity of approximately 400,000 new "disabled Veterans" since 2001. Did someone lie? Or did they purposely blur the the distinctions of a 0% disability and those receiving financial compensation for a serious (or minor) injury? With current Veterans receiving compensation at a rate half that of Our Viet Nam era Brothers and that of Veterans of all eras, current War Veterans are not the problem. (Neither are Our Brothers that served before us.)
I was told when I was out-processing the Army that I should scour my records for a way to claim a disability. The "counselor" said that if I had been peeling potatoes in on-post housing and accidentally cut myself, that I could claim it as a service related (0%) disability, even though it wouldn't get me a check. The benefit she said was that I'd have a better chance of employment with the Federal Government if I had a 0% disability. She really sold it and I could have found something to claim, but I didn't. A number of those 400,000 did. Others were rightfully added for peacetime or Desert Storm or Viet Nam era injuries.
In 2003, the VA Download Unique_VA_Users_FY2003 released the numbers on how many Veterans of all periods received any VA Benefit at all. Though 2% (241,900 total used this service in 2003) of the "living recipients" only utilized burial services, according to the report, a total of 7.9 Million Veterans used some service ranging from only a Life Insurance policy to Health Care. That was 32% of the Veteran population at that time. And the percentage using Compensation & Pension (2.9 Million) benefits was 12% at the time. In some of the VA statistics, the information was skewed because the recipients didn't have a Social Security Number on file, which also means the VA had no way to prove the recipient was even a Veteran.
This Administration has campaigned to get more Veterans on Disability, particularly on Disability for PTSD. The recipients no longer have to provide any proof of a reason for PTSD. The Traumatic event is no longer a requirement. Now, a clerk that never left Camp Victory, Iraq or Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, that never even heard a round fired in combat can claim PTSD, the check, and the visits with the shrink. That's a future part of those increases in new disability claims, though that change came after the increase by 400,000 in disability claims. In other words, we can expect another surge when the 2011 numbers are published.
PTSD, TBI, and back injuries are difficult to objectively prove/disprove. Basically, in many cases, one simply has to take the word of the person making the claim. For those that really need the help, the available assets are reduced by those that are simply looking for a free ride. It actually reduces the likelihood of those that really need it, to seek help, when they see the room flooded with those that weren't in traumatic situations.
So, what does all this mean? Our Veterans have earned their benefits, paid for in blood, sweat, and sacrifice. Inflating the costs does not help fix the problem. Clogging the system with beneficiaries that don't have those scars does not help fix the problem. Throwing money at the problem does not help fix it. Using those inflated numbers as an excuse to argue against the mission Our Troops volunteered for does not help the situation. Forcing Veterans that earned the benefit pay their own way, is wrong.
It is not Our Veterans that are bankrupting this Nation. Less than 1% of Our Nation has borne the burden in the current defense of Our Nation. We've been at war for 10 years and have fewer Veterans now than we did when it started. The number of Veterans from Our Current Conflicts receiving disability compensation was less than .06% of the population (2007) of the Nation. The Obama Administration did not inflict the costs of health care on Military Combat Veterans and Retirees because more Veterans need health care, but so he could "pay for" his giveaway of health insurance to those that did not earn it with their blood. Less than 1% of Our Nation is receiving compensation of any amount for their role in defending this Nation, in all Wars. That percentage is going down, not up, as Our WWII, Korean War, & Viet Nam era Brothers fall to old age at a rate faster than Afghanistan Veterans are added.
Tailor the way you get your War On Terror News
While bringing you the latest news on the War On Terror we are supporting a Marine in his quest to help his brothers in arms. Read how and Where it all began: A Senior Marine NCO that Refused Orders War On Terror News is supporting MGySgt White and his fundraising efforts for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.