Almost half of new vets seek disability

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by AK Forty Seven, May 27, 2012.

  1. http://news.yahoo.com/ap-impact-almost-half-vets-seek-disability-160656481.html

    Almost half of new vets seek disability




    America's newest veterans are filing for disability benefits at a historic rate, claiming to be the most medically and mentally troubled generation of former troops the nation has ever seen.

    A staggering 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. That is more than double the estimate of 21 percent who filed such claims after the Gulf War in the early 1990s, top government officials told The Associated Press.

    What's more, 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.

    It's unclear how much worse off these new veterans are than their predecessors. Many factors are driving the dramatic increase in claims — the weak economy, more troops surviving wounds, and more awareness of problems such as concussions and PTSD. Almost one-third have been granted disability so far.

    Government officials and some veterans' advocates say that veterans who might have been able to work with certain disabilities may be more inclined to seek benefits now because they lost jobs or can't find any. Aggressive outreach and advocacy efforts also have brought more veterans into the system, which must evaluate each claim to see if it is war-related. Payments range from $127 a month for a 10 percent disability to $2,769 for a full one.

    As the nation commemorates the more than 6,400 troops who died in post-9/11 wars, the problems of those who survived also draw attention. These new veterans are seeking a level of help the government did not anticipate, and for which there is no special fund set aside to pay.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs is mired in backlogged claims, but "our mission is to take care of whatever the population is," said Allison Hickey, the VA's undersecretary for benefits. "We want them to have what their entitlement is."

    The 21 percent who filed claims in previous wars is Hickey's estimate of an average for Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield. The VA has details only on the current disability claims being paid to veterans of each war.

    The AP spent three months reviewing records and talking with doctors, government officials and former troops to take stock of the new veterans. They are different in many ways from those who fought before them.

    More are from the Reserves and National Guard — 28 percent of those filing disability claims — rather than career military. Reserves and National Guard made up a greater percentage of troops in these wars than they did in previous ones. About 31 percent of Guard/Reserve new veterans have filed claims compared to 56 percent of career military ones.

    More of the new veterans are women, accounting for 12 percent of those who have sought care through the VA. Women also served in greater numbers in these wars than in the past. Some female veterans are claiming PTSD due to military sexual trauma — a new challenge from a disability rating standpoint, Hickey said.

    The new veterans have different types of injuries than previous veterans did. That's partly because improvised bombs have been the main weapon and because body armor and improved battlefield care allowed many of them to survive wounds that in past wars proved fatal.

    "They're being kept alive at unprecedented rates," said Dr. David Cifu, the VA's medical rehabilitation chief. More than 95 percent of troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan have survived.

    Larry Bailey II is an example. After tripping a rooftop bomb in Afghanistan last June, the 26-year-old Marine remembers flying into the air, then fellow troops attending to him.

    "I pretty much knew that my legs were gone. My left hand, from what I remember I still had three fingers on it," although they didn't seem right, Bailey said. "I looked a few times but then they told me to stop looking." Bailey, who is from Zion, Ill., north of Chicago, ended up a triple amputee and expects to get a hand transplant this summer.

    He is still transitioning from active duty and is not yet a veteran. Just over half of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans eligible for VA care have used it so far.

    Of those who have sought VA care:

    —More than 1,600 of them lost a limb; many others lost fingers or toes.

    —At least 156 are blind, and thousands of others have impaired vision.

    —More than 177,000 have hearing loss, and more than 350,000 report tinnitus — noise or ringing in the ears.

    —Thousands are disfigured, as many as 200 of them so badly that they may need face transplants. One-quarter of battlefield injuries requiring evacuation included wounds to the face or jaw, one study found.

    "The numbers are pretty staggering," said Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston who has done four face transplants on non-military patients and expects to start doing them soon on veterans.

    Others have invisible wounds. More than 400,000 of these new veterans have been treated by the VA for a mental health problem, most commonly, PTSD.

    Tens of thousands of veterans suffered traumatic brain injury, or TBI — mostly mild concussions from bomb blasts — and doctors don't know what's in store for them long-term. Cifu, of the VA, said that roughly 20 percent of active duty troops suffered concussions, but only one-third of them have symptoms lasting beyond a few months.

    That's still a big number, and "it's very rare that someone has just a single concussion," said David Hovda, director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center. Suffering multiple concussions, or one soon after another, raises the risk of long-term problems. A brain injury also makes the brain more susceptible to PTSD, he said.

    On a more mundane level, many new veterans have back, shoulder and knee problems, aggravated by carrying heavy packs and wearing the body armor that helped keep them alive. One recent study found that 19 percent required orthopedic surgery consultations and 4 percent needed surgery after returning from combat.

    All of this adds up to more disability claims, which for years have been coming in faster than the government can handle them. The average wait to get a new one processed grows longer each month and is now about eight months — time that a frustrated, injured veteran might spend with no income.

    More than 560,000 veterans from all wars currently have claims that are backlogged — older than 125 days.

    The VA's benefits chief, Hickey, gave these reasons:

    —Sheer volume. Disability claims from all veterans soared from 888,000 in 2008 to 1.3 million in 2011. Last year's included more than 230,000 new claims from Vietnam veterans and their survivors because of a change in what conditions can be considered related to Agent Orange exposure. Those complex, 50-year-old cases took more than a third of available staff, she said.

    —High number of ailments per claim. When a veteran claims 11 to 14 problems, each one requires "due diligence" — a medical evaluation and proof that it is service-related, Hickey said.

    —A new mandate to handle the oldest cases first. Because these tend to be the most complex, they have monopolized staff and pushed up average processing time on new claims, she said.

    —Outmoded systems. The VA is streamlining and going to electronic records, but for now, "We have 4.4 million case files sitting around 56 regional offices that we have to work with; that slows us down significantly," Hickey said.

    Barry Jesinoski, executive director of Disabled American Veterans, called Hickey's efforts "commendable," but said: "The VA has a long way to go" to meet veterans' needs. Even before the surge in Agent Orange cases, VA officials "were already at a place that was unacceptable" on backlogged claims, he said.

    He and VA officials agree that the economy is motivating some claims. His group helps veterans file them, and he said that sometimes when veterans come in, "We'll say, 'Is your back worse?' and they'll say, 'No, I just lost my job.'"

    Jesinoski does believe these veterans have more mental problems, especially from multiple deployments.

    "You just can't keep sending people into war five, six or seven times and expect that they're going to come home just fine," he said.

    For taxpayers, the ordeal is just beginning. With any war, the cost of caring for veterans rises for several decades and peaks 30 to 40 years later, when diseases of aging are more common, said Harvard economist Linda Bilmes. She estimates the health care and disability costs of the recent wars at $600 billion to $900 billion.

    "This is a huge number and there's no money set aside," she said. "Unless we take steps now into some kind of fund that will grow over time, it's very plausible many people will feel we can't afford these benefits we overpromised."

    How would that play to these veterans, who all volunteered and now expect the government to keep its end of the bargain?

    "The deal was, if you get wounded, we're going to supply this level of support," Bilmes said. Right now, "there's a lot of sympathy and a lot of people want to help. But memories are short and times change."
     
  2. Republicans and their wars

    I wonder if the fiscal conservative neo cons who wants non stop war and the The US policing the world will now start calling the vets disabled from their wars government tit suckers/parasites etc
     
  3. Obama and his wars....

    Maybe its time for Obama to set an example and quit war mongering himself....
     
  4. 377OHMS

    377OHMS

    ?

    Obama has been in office for over 3 years. He could have ended the wars and closed Gitmo years ago. Why isn't he doing what he promised?

    Blaming the wars on republicans when there has been a democrat in the oval office for 3+ years is disingenuous.
     
  5. Not tho mention the fact that he added tons of troops to afghanistan, got us involved in 3 more wars, and allowed drone strikes to go up exponentially under his watch.....

    The only anti war thing he has done was leave Iraq, on the date Bush had originally planned, and only cause the Iraq government kicked us out.....

    Obama is a real peacenik..... lol
     

  6. http://news.yahoo.com/iraq-pullout-signature-failure-obama-romney-203147930.html



    Iraq pullout a "signature failure" for Obama: Romney



    LITTLETON, New Hampshire (Reuters) - Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Thursday attacked U.S. President Barack Obama for a "signature failure" to keep some troops in Iraq to prevent the country falling back into sectarian conflict.

    Just days after U.S. troops left Iraq, a wave of bombings killed at least 72 people in Baghdad on Thursday. The Shi'ite-led government is engulfed in a crisis that risks fracturing Iraq along sectarian and ethnic fault lines.

    A consistent front-runner in polls of Republicans, Romney said he feared leaving Iraq without a stabilization force could put the hard-earned successes and victories there at risk.

    "I hope that risk is not realized. I hope that we're able to see stability there but the president's failure to secure an agreement and maintain 10,000 to 30,000 troops in Iraq has to be one of his signature failures," he told Reuters.





    http://articles.boston.com/2011-06-14/news/29657598_1_afghanistan-mitt-romney-pullout




    Mitt Romney, Ron Paul clash on Afghanistan pullout




    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul are disagreeing on how quickly to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

    Romney said at a Republican presidential debate Monday that generals in Afghanistan should guide the pullout schedule based to conditions on the ground. He said the troops should come home as soon as possible under those conditions.

    Paul said the president must tell generals what to do. He said if he were president he would begin withdrawing troops almost immediately. He said the United States has no purpose fighting a war in Afghanistan.





    http://www.google.com/hostednews/af...docId=CNG.157e26ff13a2c531647ebb82af797d37.91


    Romney says 'prepare for war' against Iran




    WASHINGTON — Accusing President Barack Obama of naivete on Iran, Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney promised Thursday that if elected president he would "prepare for war" with the Islamic republic.

    In a commentary published in the Wall Street Journal, Romney said he would back up US diplomacy "with a very real and very credible military option," deploying carrier battle groups to the Gulf and boosting military aid to Israel.

    "These actions will send an unequivocal signal to Iran that the United States, acting in concert with allies, will never permit Iran to obtain nuclear weapons," he wrote.

    Romney, a frontrunner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, keyed his column to a International Atomic Energy Agency report this week citing "credible evidence" that Iran had worked on a nuclear explosive device.

    Iran denies it is developing nuclear weapons and insists its nuclear program is for generating electricity, but the report has prompted calls in the West for tougher UN sanctions and demands by Israel for world to act to prevent Tehran for getting nuclear weapons.

    Romney said the United States "needs a very different policy."

    "'Si vis pacem, para bellum.' That is a Latin phrase, but the ayatollahs will have no trouble understanding its meaning from a Romney administration: If you want peace, prepare for war," he said.






    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Glob...ran-Where-Mitt-Romney-and-Rick-Santorum-stand

    Bomb Iran? Where Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum stand.

    The two strongest Republican candidates to emerge from the Iowa caucuses, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, both are open to bombing Iran's nuclear weapons program.


    Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum emerged as the twin frontrunners after the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday, and this is likely to have interesting reverberations for Iran.


    Why Iran? Because both former Gov. Romney and former Sen. Santorum are hard critics of the Obama administration’s handling of the country that Romney sees as America’s largest threat. Both men have said they would bomb Iran if that country developed nuclear weapons. Both believe that Obama’s efforts to negotiate with Iran sends a signal of weakness. And if one of these men emerges as the Republican candidate to go up against Obama, the Republican party will attempt to play to what it regards as its strength – security and foreign policy – and the rhetoric against Iran is only likely to grow sharper.

    Obama’s approach to Iran, of course, is shaped by his campaign promise to abandon the unilateralism of the Bush administration, and to work closely with America’s allies to deal with mutual threats, using methods short of war. While the US took the lead in dealing with supposed threats in Iraq – launching the war promising to go after Saddam Hussein’s alleged “weapons of mass destruction” – Europe has taken the lead in dealing with Iran through “critical dialogue” and reminding Iran of its promises to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.


    Most of the Republican candidates portray this carrot-and-stick approach as weakness, and call for military options.










    http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/06/romney-calls-for-more-defense-spending/



    Romney Calls for More Defense Spending



    MT. PLEASANT, S.C. — Standing among retired airplanes on the U.S.S. Yorktown, a decommissioned World War II aircraft carrier, Mitt Romney told a small group of veterans on Thursday that given the global threats to America’s interests, the nation’s defense spending should be increased instead of cut.

    Acknowledging that waste and excess spending exist within the Defense Department, Mr. Romney still called for increasing the Pentagon’s budget.



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  7. What 3 new wars has Obama got us in and how many troops did he send ?
     

  8. He ended Iraq,he has so far avoided a war with Iran,he got rid of Kadaffai without the loss or injury of 1 US troop

    Plans are set to withdraw from Afaganhston.He did promise to send more troops there to get rid of Bin Laden and Al Queda in 2008

    When Republicans started the Iraq and Afghanistan wars they deserve most of the blame.Not only did they start them,they wanted to stay longer and they want to start a war with Iran



    I personally prefer Ron Pauls foreign policy but will accept Obamas over Romenys
     
  9. While Romney wanted to keep troops in Iraq,some republicans want to send troops back



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  10. Ricter

    Ricter

    I remember the troop surge, guys here were crying it was a joke, nowhere near enough, and painting pictures of lonely bases with a half dozen guys, etc.
     
    #10     May 27, 2012