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.