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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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.