$650B for Iraq War is only the beginning

The many billions of dollars spent so far on the Iraq war is peanuts compared to the unplanned costs for veterans health care and benefits. The cost of the war in Iraq is only in the early stages. The Department of Defense has not even taken into consideration the damage done indirectly to the future life of the veteran and his or her family. The D.O.D. has disclosed that nearly 40,000 troops have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), although they admit many more are likely keeping it a secret.

The 40,000 cases cover only those that the military has tracked. Officials have estimated that roughly 50 percent of troops with mental health problems don't ask for treatment because they fear it will hurt their careers. Increased exposure of troops to combat and the fact that many troops are serving second, third, or fourth tours of duties is attributing dramatically to increased stress. The cost of treating them is projected to more than double over the next 20 years.

Many soldiers are scarred or overcome in pain from what they saw or did. One in five suffers from depression, four hundred thousand veterans are waiting for their cases to be processed. The number seeking assistance for homelessness is up 600% in the past year.

Currently, a new G.I. Bill of benefits is being considered in Congress. It would grant free tuition at state colleges for veterans who have put in at least three years or service. President Bush and John McCain oppose the bill because they fear it would encourage an exodus in the military rather than increase re-enlistment that add up to 15 times a soldier's monthly pay. If the Pentagon fears recruitment issues, it wouldn't be because of an improved G.I. Bill, but because of a cavalier attitude toward veterans' health needs our children can look forward to paying for the cost of the Iraq war for years to come.

About the Blogger

Col. Irving Davidoff's picture

Col. Irving Davidoff of New Smyrna Beach is a retired Army general staff officer and assistant chief of information for the Pentagon and a World War II veteran of the European Theater who landed at Normandy. The City of New Smyrna Beach proclaimed June 30, 2007, "Colonel Irving Davidoff Day in New Smyrna Beach."

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