True cost of war visible in our overwhelmed Veterans' Administration

Army Staff Sgt. Sam Shockley, who was injured in Afghanistan when he stepped on a buried bomb, prepares to work on his balance and on walking with prosthetic legs at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. Matt McClain/The Washington Post


Army Staff Sgt. Sam Shockley, who was injured in Afghanistan when he stepped on a buried bomb, prepares to work on his balance and on walking with prosthetic legs at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. Matt McClain/The Washington Post

From the sixth in a 6-part Washington Post series on war and disability: "The longest stretch of fighting in American history is producing disability claims at rates that surpass those of any of the country’s previous wars. Nearly half of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are filing for these benefits when they leave the military — a flood of claims that has overwhelmed the VA and generated a backlog of 300,000 cases stuck in processing for more than 125 days. Some have languished for more than a year." The flood of claims peaked last year at 611,000.

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  1. Just wait another 20 years when these kids' age-related maladies start piling up on top of their war injuries... Assuming that flag-waving patriots haven't shut down their access to care by then.

  2. Assuming that flag-waving patriots haven't shut down their access to care by then.

    I've worked with homeless vets in Colorado with programs in Denver. When I first started in it I was amazed how many needed help. I always just assumed the same country that gets so amped up to send people into wars would also be just as amped to take care of the vets when they got back home. Now I know better.

  3. I'd settle for if both parties stop getting us involved in one BS military/humanitarian crisis after another. Funny thing how the current party in charge rode into power on a wave of anti-war sentiment and has done absolutely nothing to stem the tide. And apparently there's not a single person in Washington who knows how dire things are at the VA. Everyone in charge only finds out when it makes it into the newspaper.

    Oh well though - nothing to see here folks!

  4. has done absolutely nothing to stem the tide

    I agreed with everything in your post, but I only partly agree with this part. McCain has made it clear that we would be far more involved in Syria right now on top of being much further along a war path with Iran if he was our President. Romney also beat the war drums for Iran and Syria as well. While the current administration certainly beat the drums for the military-industrial complex to attack Syria, they did back down and listened to reason overall. Let's not fool ourselves into thinking a Republican administration would have listened and backed off on Syria. The fact these bloodthirsty idiots aren't ushering us into wars with Syria and Iran is some tide stemming right there.

    Keep in mind, with all the vicious things Obama has already done, Republicans repeatedly say he's too weak on foreign policy. Too weak. When it comes to eagerness to enter wars, I think we can take the Republicans' word to follow through on that, at least.

    Obama and many of the Democrats are horrible, but it's also a mistake to embrace false equivalence when it comes to comparing them with Republicans and it's often based upon myths. For example, Democratic Representatives who voted against the Iraq war vastly outnumbered Republicans. If the American public had resisted falling for false equivalence and had voted in more "lesser evil" Democrats up to that point, we wouldn't have entered the Iraq War. That would've been nice.

    This isn't to defend many of the Democrats nor the Obama administration which are absolutely despicable and even worse than GW Bush on certain issues. But, to suggest that things would be the same with Republicans is to ignore their sordid history. It's no accident that most Americans think that Democratic Representatives at large supported the Iraq War resolution when they didn't. Pushing a false equivalence narrative serves to keep us ping ponging back and forth between the two different parties instead of pushing liberal Democrats into the fold and pushing DINOs and bluedog Democrats out.

  5. I deplore shabby treatment of vets as much as the next guy, but this conversation is mighty US-centric. The vets in question were volunteers who took part in an arguably illegal war of aggression, and they left behind hundreds of thousands of casualties (how sickening is it that nobody really knows how many?), including huge numbers of civilians, that you can bet aren't getting VA standard care. Funny how nobody ever remembers them.

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