As we predicted in 2008, the cost for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan would prove much higher than previous wars.  The current generation of veterans includes many who have served extremely long tours of duty, and in many cases, they have served two, three or more tours.  These periods of service have been served in grueling conditions, in hot climates, under constant threat of attack or accident.  The infantry troops have been especially worn down by years of counter-insurgency warfare.  These veterans typically come home with a variety of health problems  — including damage to hearing and eyesight, back problems, skin disorders, , muscle and knee injuries, and mental health issues.  They are therefore entitled to apply for disability benefits.  The Department of Veterans Affairs has made it easier and more straightforward to apply for such benefits — even though the VA has still not fixed the long delays in approving the payments.

The number of new veterans now applying for disability benefits is over 45% — even higher than the 40% we predicted.

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