Almost Half of New Veterans Seeking Disability Benefits

The Associated Press reports that 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.  (Source: Stars and Stripes)

That is more than double the estimated 21 percent who filed such claims after the Gulf War in the early 1990s, top government officials told the AP.

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.

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condor---this actually supports what I have been saying about the "entitlement" mindset of the current military generation:

From Stars and Stripes which one cannot fault as left or right these days so therefore it should be paid attention to.

.....that 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. (Source: Stars and Stripes)

That is more than double the estimated 21 percent who filed such claims after the Gulf War in the early 1990s, top government officials told the AP.

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

Condor 45% of 1.6M is close to 800K disability claims and if the statistics are right and each of those military members are claiming 8-9 aliments per member THEN either this Force is chronically damaged goods and or "someone" has taught them what to claim. My assumptions are in fact correct that the entire Force fully understands that it can walk around with 1000 to 1400 USD per month for life if the answers are correct so why not do it. By having the final medical done inside the Army as a time saver for VA has made the problem even worse---loop holes were made in it from the beginning and so it should not surprise us that the 45% exists.

Claiming now 11 to 14 aliments just means military members are getting greedy and know that some aliments will be rejected so the motto pile it on and we will still come out ahead---they are trying for full disability as the word on the street is full means anywhere from 2700 to 3300 USD per month for like on top of a regular employment salary---does it not make you stop and think? Maybe one should change the laws and state if working no VA comp until retirement age and then the full amounts---just a thought---watch then the numbers drop.

Condor---and this is something not talked about in the article nor outside of the Force--so if one is so chronically ill then just how is it possible for say that MSG who is getting 1375 USD per month for sleep and PTSD issues to then be fully employed as a Defense Contractor knocking down six digit incomes AND on top of his retirement all at the age of say 40/41?

If one has and or is suffering from PTSD--is he or she should be in constant therapy if not why not then how is it then possible to sidestep the "triggers" in a civilian work environment that does not want to know you have PTSD? One is never really "cured" when you have PTSD---there are always triggers.

If the stats for DS are correct at 21% and VN vets who were far more "exposed" to serious injury, illnesses via AO and 5 other defoliants that VA is disputing were dropped but records indicate otherwise just WHAT is then the increase of ailments being claimed equal nearly 50% over say VN vets by this generation. Sleep, PTSD, leg/back/ankle.

Does it not strike you as being "odd" as statistics yes can be manufactured to slant but VA does a good job at recording that the sheer numbers are not "telling" us something?

SO just maybe I am correct in both my observations and assumptions---"entitlement" mindset and a Force that understands how to capitalize on money when it is offered with little resistance by the Federal Government.

If have to often heard the young NCOs talk about this to believe that it does not exist.

Another issue that is totally ignored---the defense contractor who deployed---yes many will say he was in it for the money but if one really looks at what the Force calls "follow on civilian forces" as regulated by Federal Law and DoD regs---the Army could never have deployed without the massive civilian support side.

Now if they get injured---any disability---are you kidding, if injured is he or she treated---are you really kidding and is there any compensation ---now one is seriously kidding.

Civilians were covered by the Longshoresman Act of 1942 and Congress never did update that for us---so compensation forget it if your company did not fully pay into the insurance which many did not as they pocketed the money instead---serious leg injury--hospitalization covered, rehab not covered, disability payment usually one time and never again and forget that knee replacement due to the injury because if you settle then early that is excluded even though even one knows it will be needed in the future---so one has to wait maybe 30-40 years before one can finally settle and if you die along the way you family gets nothing due to the 1942 law---so do vets really have it hard with the VA--not really in the grand scheme of things.

Some civilian Arabic interpreters from the US are still waiting in vain for settlements from IED injuries from 2004/2005---and we worry about veterans and the long VA waits--they will never receive anything and yet without them the Force could not speak to the locals.

I think you are somewhat over simplifying the cause of higher benefits, but I agree culture is certainly part of it. I think the first part of this is that we now have a different definition of PTSD. It is one that goes away from long periods of stressful events and states that any traumatic event can result in PTSD This is not a product of the military but of academic research. For example, see the literature on rape and PTSD (http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=rape+PTSD&btnG=&as_sdt=1%2C5&a...). I have no qualification to evaluate the accuracy of the claim, but I think the academic consensus has certainly changed.

Second, the political and media environment are different. The lack of treatment of veterans in pervious wars have created a rare point of unified political and societal agreement. Namely, veterans should have access to various VA benefits and in particular mental health. Moreover, the media environment is vastly different. Any letter the VA sends out denying any type of coverage could be national news.

In an environment where the cause of the disease could literally be any stressful event and it will be extremely unpopular and widely know to deny benefits to veterans, it is politically unsustainable to create a rigorous screening that would deny benefits to these veterans. Moreover, it is hard to create a culture that says the individual shouldn’t take the benefits. Any attempt to do so would quickly be very unpopular with the society. Without that sort of culture, people will generally maximize economic benefits. Thinking they won’t, would be similar to thinking someone won’t take their home interest deduction.

I have read through many of the comments on here and it would seem to me that quite a few commenters are envious, jealous and angry that today's Soldiers are getting more VA benefits than previous generations of Soldiers who fought tougher, more deadly wars but came away with less benefits. That seems to be a controlling point-the most benefits should go to those who sacrificed the most. Sort of like a sliding scale. The more atrocious and deadly the war was, the more benefits you should receive. I agree but disagree with the commenters who think modern veterans of the Iraq/Afghan wars are receiving so much more in benefits.

I spent ten years in the Army. Half as an enlisted man, then I commissioned through ROTC, then I commissioned again as a JAG Officer even though I was already commissioned. Yes it does not make sense but I signed a new oath of office and accepted a new Presidential commission though I was already an Artillery Officer. That's another story. Point is, as a JAG Officer who only recently got out because I was finding Army policy and overall strategy and treatment of Troops so appalling I could not accept seeing so many young troops readily accept such a raw deal while their commanders and higher ups were concocting schemes to get rid of as many Soldiers as possible as Iraq ended and as Afghan slowly is coming to an end. I went to FORSCOM VTCs where the 4 star was actively telling his Corp and Division Generals to find any medical or admin way possible to give people the boot. I actually heard these clowns tell each other to start holding hard working Soldiers to such perfect standards that to miss a medical appointment twice in a year was worthy of a sep board. And I am not being sarcastic. As a JAG lawyer about two years ago, I saw a unit actually initiate a sep board on a 10 or 11 year E6 because he missed some medical appointments. But the real reason was because he had the nerve to seek medical help at the Army Hospital for his overwhelming depression and his unit was angry he thus didn't have to go to NTC. Mind you he had deployed twice already. His commander was incensed he had the nerve to seek medical help before a deployment and so they found all sorts of petty BS to sep this guy and NOT only sep him but his sep board, made up of Officers and Sr. enlisted guys from his BDE set to deploy in two weeks also handed him a general discharge. You don't have to believe me but I was the board's legal advisor and though I could not tell them how to vote and what findings to make I did walk the line of my duties and allowances and told them their finding as to his characterization of service was not within the reasonable meaning of characterization of service and the evidence was not enough, legally, in my legal opinion, that reasonable board members could differ on honorable or less than that. I was scolded by my JAG superiors because none of them gave a flying shit about Soldiers, no one in the Army really does. And before you all scream "higher standard" let me tell you how many men and some women I represented who for years held their head high and bemoaned the sad state of the Army and how everyone should be kicked out who doesn't score a 300 on PT tests or who fails once at anything, etc, etc., and then a funny thing always happens-that Soldier or Officer finds him or herself in trouble and then, boy, does their attitude change and once they find they become an Army target I would watch them sink into overwhelming depression at the prospect of losing everything with a bad discharge-and we're not even talking about a court martial. No, just your run of the mill administrative sep board or officer elimination board, also called a "show cause" board. I saw this ALL THE TIME. So pardon me for not taking the high and mighty of the Army discipline patrol seriously because if I learned one thing as an Army lawyer it is this-Pride goeth before the fall.

Which brings me to disability and the VA. I could write about this forever as I actually assisted MED Board lawyers. The Army was moving to hire civilian lawyers to rep Soldiers at med boards but JAGs were still used though they were a dying breed. As Iraq and Afghan were in their primes, more JAGs were desperate to deploy. You see, in JAG deploying can be difficult so many will fight and claw their way over each other to get a deployment slot. I didn't care. To me, I wanted to deploy but I was not going to let some Army beaurocrat or dumb O5 make me feel guilty for not begging to deploy. If you have to beg and kiss ass to deploy just for your career and tax free income then chances are you need to ask yourself a higher question: what kind of War in the desert that has nothing to do with America really do I beg to go to? For generations we were told we fought wars so our kids can live in peace and yet I am sitting here begging to go just so I can get a badge? Don't believe me? Every single JAG Officer I know was told they need to deploy by any means possible to get promoted. That is not a just war in my mind. But no one in the Army wants to ask questions about morals, or just wars, or whats right. No, everyone just wants to be Rambo, get a superficial flesh woundget tax free income and a deployment patch. Don't get me wrong-many go there and die. Yes, the young men in combat roles die. But as a JAG Officer or any Officer it really is the Officer Corps. duty to always answer the call but tto also always, and I mean always think like an educated citizen and professional man of arms. Officers are taught to think and lead, not be drones. Yes-follow orders always but don't be a drone who would invade Canada if it meant a good career and tax free income. Disgusting.

Moving on-point is I saw many young Soldiers get screwed out of their entitled Med Board where, by all rights, they should have received an Army disability paycheck-Not a VA one. The Army has what is called IDES or "Integrated Disability Eval System" where the Soldier has a MED Board initiated but the Army rates him and the VA and they try to mirror each other's ratings or reconcile differences between the Army and VA doctors in assessing if their is a disagreement. Well, this process takes, on average, 16 months. So imagine a broke Soldier in the WTU (traditionally called the "medical hold" now Warrior Transition Unit) whose command hates him and wants him gone, who serves no purpose and never knows when he is getting out all while often on very powerful narcotics and oter controlled meds. Well, as a JAG lawyer at a huge base with these problems I will tell you what happens. The Soldier often gets in trouble. Usually they piss hot, use each others controlled med pills which under UCMJ is same as doing cocaine or marijuana or heroin, or they get in a serious alchol incident or a domestic. Now I know what you'll say "higher standards!!!" I heard this nonsense all the time and it reminded me of an Ostrich with his head in the sand. You can yell moral platitudes all day in the Army. In fact GEN Petraeus did that and even wrote a book about his serious military bearing and moral compass all the while engaging in a serious affair with a little tramp while he was in a war zone and seriously compromising our National Security, but hey, he only started banging her the day he retired and not the year before when he took her as his personal biographer downramge even though she had never written a book in her life and there were far more superior writers with years of experience who wrote military autobiographies.

What's this all got to do with VA disabilities? It's about truth. Soldiers in todays Army are absolutely entirely expendable and they know it. Now the Army is actively looking for ways to bounce all this extra fat it begged to recruit 7 years ago. But now the top brass wants to kick out all these guys. Well how do you do it? It's like I just said-you talk about "discipline" as a subterfuge to find more and more ways to kick people out. You initiate MED boards left and right if you cannot find Soldiers who missed a medical appointment. Then you wait until these Soldiers with problems make one mistake while waiting 15 months for their MED Board and hopefully you can kick them out with a less than honorable discharge while avoiding a court martial. I'm just talking about admin separations. They can hurt too. So these guys get out with less than honorable discharges with nothing on the outside.

Many of you talk about the Vietnam Soldier and World War II Soldier. Here is a news flash of sorts. Sure, there were less claims for disabilities but men from the late sixties and seventies who got out of the Army were going back to an America with opportunities. No one, for the most part, who gets out of today's Army will have nearly the same amount of opportunity the Vietnam Soldier had. Not to mention the Vietnam Soldier was drafted. So even if he messed up in the Army, no one cared to the point he lost any real opportunity. He was drafted into a War everyone despised. All his buddies were drafted and they ALL WANTED OUT OF THE ARMY ASAP. Unlike the majority of todays Soldiers who ALL WANT TO STAY IN because everyone knows that by and large it is near impossible to survive in todays America even with a great education. Most of us have next to nothing whereas our Vietnam or baby boomer parents or grandparents had way more opportunities that were affordable unlike us. You weren't quite as desperate for the GI Bill as a baby boomer. Know why? Because you could afford higher education. And know something else? Once you earned that degree you actually found a pretty decent job unlike todays job market where you're lucky to wait tables.

And yes, the VA has evolved on PTSD. Many of you act like the claims are just skyrocketing and this is bad. Well here is a newsflash again. World War 2 and Vietnam Soldiers maybe did not have the same access to PTSD benefits but they had access to benefits as an American citizen-like affordable higher education they could pay by working a summer job, and affordable meaningful health care they could pay with earned income and way more opportunities without crippling competition from women, Hispanics, Chinese and other ethnic groups, they had powerful unions that were easy to get on, and on and on. So you guys whine about today's Soldier filing more claims and I say good for them. You say the USA will go bankrupt because of the veterans who will get disability checks for PTSD. Give me a break. America spends more of Iraq and Afghan puppet governments and international aid and treaties with other countries that are effectively billion dollar bribes that taking care of some more Soldiers is hardly the reason America will go bankrupt. Reading that kind of nonsense makes me nauseated. Do you realize that most Soldiers wait almost 2 years and undergo all kinds of medical exams? You just don't fill out a piece of paper and get PTSD payments. Please. And its about time Soldiers were rightly compensated for their suffering. Unlike days of yore when the Soldier came back from a vicious front line war, but yet he had a wife who took care of him, he had healthcare he could afford on his wages and a society that put him in an upper class, todays Soldiers go home to nothing. Oh sure, there may be people wearing yellow flags on their BMWs and maybe his family throws a welcome back party but then he is stuffed right back into the heap of society he came from. He is again nothing, with nothing. So do not presume to think that Vietnam and World War 2 Soldiers had it so much worse simply because they filed less PTSD claims. You see, they didn't need to file claims the way today's Soldier does.Today's Soldiers do not have anything except debt and regret. Our American economy is a shell of its former self.

And most veterans get a 100-200 bucks from the VA. This idea they roll around in cash from VA disability payments is absolutely absurd. Bottom line is this: todays Soldier has been fighting two wars with one of them still going on almost 14 years later after the start of the conflict. At this point it is unclear as to what our mission even is. Its ridiculous. You think it is VA PTSD claims that will "bankrupt" the county? That's a laugh. If people even had any idea how much each disabled vet cost with their disability payments as compared to the amount of money the US spends oon providing countless countries including the dismal Iraq and Afghanistan their armies, their police, their governments and their bribes and payouts to politicians. So why don't you blame the US not having its priority spending right.

So before you blast troops for daring to get compensated by the right Agency, the VA, for their service-connected injuries maybe you should stop and think, "it's not the troops' getting disability that will ruin us, it is the stupid never ending wars and conflicts that will bankrupt us. And maybe if the disabilities are too expensive to pay for the rest of the vets life then just maybe the politicians who are so gung ho to fight wars will consider some of the long term costs, like disability, before making wild claims to go to War. It's that simple.

I will always be on the side of the veteran. It's the conflicts we are never leaving which is bankrupting us. And for once I'd like to see Soldiers get the respect they deserve. That's my two cents. And I could keep writing way more facts than what I just did.

whit1981---are you in fact implying that the Army is deliberately shifting the cost of valid military disabilities onto the VA as a way to avoid future hits to their OM budgets?

That would in fact explain the extremely high number of applications but not the high level of stated ailments of between 11-14 per applicant.

I would argue that with the drawdown that is in effect many are attempting to get a life time Army pension the easy way---and not have to serve a full 20 years.

I would suggest to the author that he go back and look at how the rates climbed say from 2004 until and let's be fair say rates of 2012/2013.

I wrote this previously concerning this topic and as a VN vet, a Desert Storm vet and a civilian having served right along side US troops in Iraq---I still hold to the statement---the current Army has a feeling of "entitlement" both in income earned, benefits way above and beyond anything ever given previous vet generations and now with VA disability claims.

If we break out the main causes of the VA disability claims one sees the following, sleep issues, PTSD, leg/ankle/back issues, mental health and the list goes on but these are the biggest areas.

Take sleep issues--I have honestly watched soldiers in Iraq and AFG down Red Bull by the "gallons"--in their MRPS, in their HMWVVs, in their CHUs, in the DFACs and the list goes on and when they were so high then they needed Ambient to come down.

Just how many soldiers today walk around with a energy drink in their hands or on their work desk or drink at the DFACs?

PTSD---if one really looks at the clinical definition that was set as the standard in the long years after Vietnam just to be considered for it---none of the current PTSD payments should have been allowed.

Fighting was not intense and if so then for short periods, not prolonged day after day--the images seen of dead and mutilated soldiers and civilians or entire Army units being wiped out or wounded on top of a high number of MIAs---none of it in AFG or Iraq that I could see.

IDFs of more than 800 rounds on a daily basis---never happened in AFG or Iraq---what 3, 4 or max 7 rounds a couple of time in a week or not at all and let's not forget the swimming pools on top of a 14 day R&R and short in theater passes.

Soldiers were well equipped much more so than in the past, had great DFACS with Surf and Turf once or twice weekly and what six different desserts to include ice cream, and had the comforts of home with Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc at virtually every major base on top of Green Beans for that espresso of the day.

And then on top of it the instant communications with family and loved ones via cell, ATT, internet, and Skype that was never seen in previous vet generations.

I would argue that it was the Red Bull combined with the talking to the wife about family problems three times a week where the husband could not nothing about them that stressed the troops not the enemy.

Many will argue that it was the IEDs that increased the stress levels---and what they were no booby traps and mines in Vietnam and again that generation did not have the technical abilities that this generation had.

Let's take the case of the Army and burning their trash in Iraq with heavy amounts of diesel and the troops breathing it daily which has led the VA to virtually accept all claims currently---what was the length of time until the VA accepted Agent Orange for the Vietnam vet and the Desert Storm vets are still fight to get the DS symptoms the VA to accept.

This "entitlement" generation revolves around the term "hero" and the Army and Congress has throw tons of money at the "hero" from education benefits unparalleled in Army history to earned incomes starting far higher than most young Americans can dream of today to even education benefits for wives and children.

Why was money being thrown at the Force-because no politician wanted to be seen and "not supporting the troops who are the hero's---how often has one heard that comment".

Example---I in mid 2013 over heard two young NCOs complaining bitterly at civilians for making them stay in barracks instead of hotels which they previously could get and they were not getting a rental car apiece---and this was after the Army announced they were getting tight on money. They truly felt they were "entitled" to that hotel and rental car. They were down right angry and were going to complaint to their 1st SGT after they left as they told the civilians that the civilians were mistreating them.

In 2012 and 2013, I can count on both hands and feet the number of times I heard younger soldiers, middle rank NCOs and yes even officers discuss what needed to be said and stated on their final medical check fully knowing that those words basically lead to a VA check exceeding 1000 USD for the rest of their lives. These conversations were open and often talked about in the Burger Kings, in the gyms and the DFACs among themselves and their friends.

Believe me word of mouth carries weight in this Force.

this was common knowledge among the troops---get it recorded and yes the VA is slow but you will get back payments---but get it recorded and make sure you visit the med points 9 months before leaving and have your complaints recorded every so often.

What this generation of soldiers fail to understand is that their salaries, health care and benefits come out of the yearly operating budget at it is approximately now 33% of the total yearly training budget---the Army cannot sustain that much longer if it wants to remain in business.

Yes you were on a deployment tread mill but that tread mill was far easier than many in the past have seen and then had to fight for when they returned which this generation does not need to do.

Previous comment on this topic:

Just a side comment---most vets of today have heard from other Iraq/AFG vets just how much they can get in disability payments plus they claim for all related injuries ever sustained while on active duty. You now have vets getting 50-60% disability with payments in the 1K plus ranges---most Viet vets even with PTSD and a verified second injury are lucky to rate at max 600-700 unles you are suffering from AO where the rates are far higher.

On the other hand Viet vets had to literally fight for years to get PTSD approved and there is still and ongoing fight with Agent Orange.

VA to a degree has made it far easier to claim for disability in this vet generation than in any previous vet generations.

The power of word and mouth will always drive the rates higher.

Outlaw,

You've commented on this stuff before and I've responded in the past so I'll give this a try again. First off, thank you for your service. There is no arguing that the Vietnam vets got a bad deal all around. A country that sent them off to war and then spit in their face upon return is no way to treat Veterans who were doing their country's bidding.

Now on to the a few of the subjects you touched on. You do know that ALL military service members these days are required by law to attend separations classes prior to departing the military right? These laws were passed by Congress and thus today's generation of service members don't have to really on the word of mouth since they are given numerous classes on benefits and other such topics as resume writing and job interview skills. Bottom line, today's service members are much more educated on what benefits they can apply for. There's no doubt in my mind that if the previous generations had gotten the same level of treatment that they too would have applied for the exact same things that today's members are. It's not "entitlement", it's human nature. You can't fault someone for applying for things that they have been told they are eligible for.

I understand where you are coming from, but "entitlement" cuts across all age groups. I have seen plenty of 70 and 80 year olds who feel they are "owed" certain things. I won't argue about some of the stuff you have mentioned as I actually agree with you on many points. I feel that military life shouldn't be "easy" and that members need to accept a certain "hardship" when they join. In fact, I believe all company grade officers and below and all NCOs and below should be required to live on base whether they are married or not. Of course, you and I both know that's never going to happen.

In regards to the budget, you brought in the DoD budget when you mentioned the 33% statistic. That has nothing to do with the VA budget, so two totally separate issues. I do understand that the increasing personnel cost is becoming unsustainable, but once again that isn't the fault of the service member. That issue belongs to Congress and the Pentagon. Long story short, reform will have to be made but right now no will tough the issue. I don't think there is any place left where you can do 20 years and draw a retirement for life other than the military.

As far as PTSD goes, by the definition that I have linked before, it only takes one serious traumatic event for someone to develop PTSD. A single firefight can cause PTSD. We could argue the severity of PTSD all day long, but in the end that even comes down to the individual in question. Everyone responds differently and some will have it worse than others no matter how sever the incident was. There is no way to "measure" it, it comes down to what the clinician feels the person has. Also, PTSD wasn't even recognized at the end of the Vietnam war so yes, it took many years for Vietnam veterans too finally get the benefits they deserved.

In the end, lets not blame the veteran for the benefits that many have rightfully earned. You know what's insulting? To come home from 2 tours in Iraq and see a former roommate of mine have a friend who is drawing social security disability for PTSD because he ran someone over with his car killing the person and now he is drawing a disability check for PTSD meanwhile many deserving veterans are fighting for years to get their claims recognized.

There's plenty of waste in the government that could easily be directed to covering veterans affairs but that's another issue that no politician is willing to touch.

condor---again my comment--why do we run from the "apparent" general knowledge that the troops know the ins and outs of exactly what they can claim by simply stating specific terms and words that "trigger" VA?

The article is what is interesting---how does one explain to the American taxpayer that roughly again based on the article 45% of all US military veterans seem to be "damaged" in some way.

Even during say VN or the DS vet generations that figure was never reached---so one does have to ask just why is that.

Let's go back to the VAs definition of PTSD---until 9/11 it was defined as a long period of being exposed to repeated violence and or violence that occurred to the vet and it required the proof of 1) being in say a combat unit and or a unit that would have been exposed to violence, 2) proof that one had undergone and or was undergoing consulting and had during those sessions expressed the deep seat fears, anger or depressions associated to those memories and 3) some expressed deep seated anger and anger outbursts.

Again as you noted--a one time event was not enough proof for VA in the "old" days---when and why did that change?

Critical here is the amount awarded by VA ---there is in fact a massive difference--why because what VA locks in as a figure going forward into their future funding proposals--those for the older vets it is absolutely impossible to get the amounts either redone or raised.

Today when the vet gets awarded that sum is high to begin with and he never really has to go through the attempting to get it raised if the problems get worse.

I again go over the statement what was the violence seen by say an infantryman in Iraq in in 1,2 or even 3 deployments---outside of the IED threat that was real but again technically a problem seen by both VN and DS vets---so there was nothing new there. Then comes the IDFs---maybe occasionally but not to the extent seen before and body armor was a given---which was not the case say in VN.

Let's then look at the they "sleep" issues---cannot remember the last time a VN or DS vet received any form of disability from VN for "sleep" issues---then check the VA number of Iraq/AFG vets who are "suffering" sleep issues.

That is where the number of 45% comes from as well.

Let's check the foot/leg/back issues---unless one was SF/Ranger/Delta/Seal and or a long term Airborne type those issues were never recognized and if recognized one had to have a long term medical history in the records and or long term treatment from somewhere when outside the military.

Today's ability to have a medical checkout of say the Army before one leaves is "gold" worth--why it gives a soldier a chance to record everything---and here starts the problem---right words, right terms and one is home free.

In general the amounts awarded today ware far higher--it appears that VA is shy in confronting today's vets out of the same fear that politicians have.

Then let's look at the education benefits that have been vastly and overly expanded to include groups not having been in the military breaking a long tradition that only actual military service gets education benefits---again what I call "entitlement" thinking---as the question begs to be asked ---why non military.

When we talk about this generation one only needs to look at the DS vet generation that is still fighting for a number of issues that VA has simply refused to address--do you honesty think VA would do the same thing with this generation---no not really and again ---why?

We could then expand the debate on how overly expansive the military salaries have risen since 9/11----simply compare what a SP4 get's today vs say a VN SGT who drew extra airborne pay, MOS proficiency pay, language pay and combat pay for a grand total of 365.75 USD compared to what today?

Or even say a SP4/SGT from the DS period.

It is these massive amounts of salaries, benefits and VA disabilities that is killing the overall DoD defense budgets and will if not controlled break both VA and DoD.

Again the article states 45% out of the force---the figure is way out of line---the core question should be Why?---and why do we run from it.

condor---again my comment--why do we run from the "apparent" general knowledge that the troops know the ins and outs of exactly what they can claim by simply stating specific terms and words that "trigger" VA?

The article is what is interesting---how does one explain to the American taxpayer that roughly again based on the article 45% of all US military veterans seem to be "damaged" in some way.

Even during say VN or the DS vet generations that figure was never reached---so one does have to ask just why is that.

Let's go back to the VAs definition of PTSD---until 9/11 it was defined as a long period of being exposed to repeated violence and or violence that occurred to the vet and it required the proof of 1) being in say a combat unit and or a unit that would have been exposed to violence, 2) proof that one had undergone and or was undergoing consulting and had during those sessions expressed the deep seat fears, anger or depressions associated to those memories and 3) some expressed deep seated anger and anger outbursts.

Again as you noted--a one time event was not enough proof for VA in the "old" days---when and why did that change?

Critical here is the amount awarded by VA ---there is in fact a massive difference--why because what VA locks in as a figure goes forward into their future funding proposals--those for the older vets it is absolutely impossible to get the amounts either redone or raised.

Today when the vet gets awarded that sum is high to begin with and he never really has to go through the attempting to get it raised if the problems get worse.

I again go over the statement what was the violence seen by say an infantryman in Iraq in in 1,2 or even 3 deployments---outside of the IED threat that was real but again technically a problem seen by both VN and DS vets---so there was nothing new there. Then comes the IDFs---maybe occasionally but not to the extent seen before and body armor was a given---which was not the case say in VN.

Let's then look at the they "sleep" issues---cannot remember the last time a VN or DS vet received any form of disability from VN for "sleep" issues---then check the VA number of Iraq/AFG vets who are "suffering" sleep issues.

That is where the number of 45% comes from as well.

Let's check the foot/leg/back issues---unless one was SF/Ranger/Delta/Seal and or a long term Airborne type those issues were never recognized and if recognized one had to have a long term medical history in the records and or long term treatment from somewhere when outside the military.

Today's ability to have a medical checkout of say the Army before one leaves is "gold" worth--why it gives a soldier a chance to record everything---and here starts the problem---right words, right terms and one is home free.

In general the amounts awarded today ware far higher--it appears that VA is shy in confronting today's vets out of the same fear that politicians have.

Then let's look at the education benefits that have been vastly and overly expanded to include groups not having been in the military breaking a long tradition that only actual military service gets education benefits---again what I call "entitlement" thinking---as the question begs to be asked ---why non military.

When we talk about this generation one only needs to look at the DS vet generation that is still fighting for a number of issues that VA has simply refused to address--do you honesty think VA would do the same thing with this generation---no not really and again ---why?

We could then expand the debate on how overly expansive the military salaries have risen since 9/11----simply compare what a SP4 get's today vs say a VN SGT who drew extra airborne pay, MOS proficiency pay, language pay and combat pay for a grand total of 365.75 USD compared to what today?

Or even say a SP4/SGT from the DS period.

It is these massive amounts of salaries, benefits and VA disabilities that is killing the overall DoD defense budgets and will if not controlled break both VA and DoD.

Again the article states 45% out of the force---the figure is way out of line---the core question should be Why?---and why do we run from it.

I could see that the government has a problem with the veteran’s disability benefits. The problem is that there are several Soldiers that come into the military and after they complete their service, they claim disability and the government has to pay them for the rest of their lives if the injury or illness is service related. Some veterans have service related disabilities and some simply do not, but they just want to get a check for their rest of their lives so they fake injuries in an attempt to get medically discharged or they had planed to get out of the military anyway. They just want a check to continue to hit the bank. I feel a solution to the whole problem is to make applying for the disability a whole lot harder. I understand that it is already a problem for the ones that really deserve it, but the bad apples make the whole system difficult for others who do deserve it. Also another solution could be—unless you are a service member that had a direct combat related injury such as loss of life, limb, or eye sight you should not get paid for VA disability. Sorry but because the system is being abused, we should cut the whole thing out altogether. If we continue to pay people the rest of their life due to 20 years of service and also pay those who do one or two years or less the rest of their lives, the US government will be bankrupt in a matter of time. There are just too many people retiring and getting a retirement check and in addition to that get a VA disability check and also claim every little ailment as a service related injury just to fraud taxpayers out of money. The dishonest people are ruining the system for everybody and I would rather see noone get it rather than some chumps who do not deserve VA disability benefits.

Just a side comment---most vets of today have heard from other Iraq/AFG vets just how much they can get in disability payments plus they claim for all related injuries ever sustained while on active duty. You now have vets getting 50-60% disability with payments in the 1K plus ranges---most Viet vets even with PTSD and a verified second injury are lucky to rate at max 600-700 unles you are suffering from AO where the rates are far higher.

On the other hand Viet vets had to literally fight for years to get PTSD approved and there is still and ongoing fight with Agent Orange.

VA to a degree has made it far easier to claim for disability in this vet generation than in any previous vet generations.

The power of word and mouth will always drive the rates higher.

Would like to point out the following;

Yes the current force has been on repeated tours and that is not comparable to a single Viet vet tour---but the based on the intensity of the fighting on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis ---there is no comparision between the two.

Example in 2005 when IDFs were common it was three rounds and the IDF team ran for cover. My ODA Tm would take as many as 600-700 rounds per day, with no helmets/body armor and we ran ditches under those heavy barrages just to maintain command and control.

So yes while todays vets have done many more operational tours again the intensity is not the same which lends itself to the interesting question as to why PSTD rates are far higher among Iraq/AFG vets than say Viet vets. Most Viet vet PTSD was based on pure trama---having served along side the current vets as a Viet vet defense contractor doing the same job---I am not sure what is causing this level of PTSD.

One needs to also look at the impact of 10 plus cans a day of Red Bull on the sleeping habits of todays's vets-vs previous wars and then look at why such a large number of current vets have sleeping disorders.

Everyone knows of the Red Bull problems, but no one wants to curtail it's use in theater.

The point about sleep disorder is a great one, one of those fundamental things that few ever think of. Relating it to energy drinks is good too.

You would know and I don't, do you think the tech advances that may have allowed more night ops, have something to do with it too?

A few thoughts off the cuff:

5% of 1.6M is a lot of folks- in other words "almost half" is a little misleading. If it was 49%, then I would use "almost half". 45% is as close to 40% as it is 50%...

Comparing this to Storm and Vietnam is disingenuous. The average joe is deployed more today than in those fights.

Talking to doctors treating patients (as opposed to those in policy positions), and I am hearing that combined with multiple deployments, the amount of gear and body armor we lug around, and the amount of training we do is taking a toll on the average body- lots of joint problems, back problems, and arthritis- and its happening earlier and earlier for military folks today.

Maybe we should do a better job planning for injuries and health care costs prior to deploying our troops- and then our politicians using that calculus to figure out the fiscal implications of war- and thus make better-informed political decisions. Assuming things will be the same- and yet everything about the current wars are different- is not smart.

Oh- and one wonders about how we handle our troops. In other words, in the past there was some decompression figured into deployments- long trips on troop carriers that offered a transition of sorts between combat and home life. Today you can get on a plan in a combat zone and in less than a week be back with family- maybe even as short as one day. The Brits- at least some from what I understand- take their guys to Cyprus and let them hang out on the beach drinking beer and fighting and getting counseling for a week prior to coming home- and supposedly the wives thank the military for that.

InTheKnow: On patrol one day and in the States the next day or the day after that was common in Vietnam, or so I've read.

No...these numbers don't add up. Tens of thousands of Americans died in Vietnam, hundreds and hundreds a week at times. WWII was a lot worse and Korea was quite bad. Heavy body armor or no, the intensity of the fighting mostly, mostly just didn't come close. And as far as te body armor thing goes, how many of those 1.6 million actually were walking around outside the wire? Not all !.6 million certainly.

The numbers do make sense if you look at it as an entitlement society goes to war (later edit: thank you JCustis and Culpeper), and you are right that the true costs of that kind of society going to war haven't been correctly figured.