Stiglitz and Bilmes testimony at House Veterans Affairs Committee: Revised estimate of veterans costs is 30% higher than original projection

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Watch testimony of Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes

Read full testimony: http://veterans.house.gov/hearings/hearing.aspx?newsid=632.

New PTSD regulations help veterans suffering from PTSD to claim benefits more easily — will cost billions

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The Department of Veterans Affairs has finally made the sensible decision to simplify the eligibility for veterans to obtain disability compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  This is a move that we have championed for the past three years, since the medical community has confirmed that returning veterans are suffering from an “epidemic” of PTSD.  We applaud the VA for making this change.

The previous VA system had forced veterans to prove that their PTSD was triggered by  a specific traumatic incident during service, which was often difficult or impossible given the chaos that typically surrounds an IED explosion or other traumatic episode.  Additionally, one-third of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have served multiple deployments and their PTSD is cumulative and cannot be easily traced to a specific incident.  The immediate effect of this change will enable veterans to claim benefits more quickly and easily and with less delay.

The change will accelerate the payment of benefits to hundreds of thousands of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, and it will enable tens of thousands more, who were previously ineligible to receive benefits (because they couldn’t pinpoint the source of their PTSD)  to receive benefits.  The medical community estimates that 15-20% of veterans are suffering from PTSD; therefore this cohort will now receive a monthly cash benefit.   The long-term cost of this was already anticipated in our cost estimates, as we had expected that all veterans with PTSD would eventually receive compensation.  However, this change will accelerate the uptake of benefits and should therefore add at least $10 billion to the long-term cost of veterans disability compensation.

See Q&A on this issue here.

26% increase in suicide rate among male Iraq/Afghan veterans

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Another cost of the war continues in the form of rising suicide rates among veterans.  Despite massive intervention by the military and the VA, including a number of new programs and studies to prevent suicide among returning vets, the rate between 2005 -2007 has risen by 26%, to historic proportions, according to recent data released by the VA.

Our research shows that the economic value of a life lost is around $7 million — this, of course, does not count the tragedy of the loss to the individual and his or her family.

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2010/01/va-says-suicide-rate-for-vets-jumped-26-from-2005-2007/1

Total casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan: 90,000

Filed Under Casualty Reports & FOIA, Latest News & Scandals, Veterans | Comments Off on Total casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan: 90,000

90000 Casualties, but Who’s Counting?

Antiwar.comKelley B. Vlahos?Nov 9, 2009?
Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz have identified two scenarios in their book, The Three Trillion Dollar War (2008). One scenario estimates a long-term cost

Are we really asking badly wounded vets like Erik Roberts to pay $3000 for their own medicines?

Filed Under Latest News & Scandals, Veterans | Comments Off on Are we really asking badly wounded vets like Erik Roberts to pay $3000 for their own medicines?

Army Sergeant Erik Roberts, who was wounded in Iraq by a roadside bomb in 2006, has been forced to undergo 13 surgeries in an desperate effort to save his leg.  Yet Erik has had to pay for most of his medical treatment through his own private insurance and now he has been billed $3000 for antibiotics.  Here is yet another example of a pattern — extensively documented in GAO reports and in The Three Trillion Dollar War — of the government trying to pass the cost of the war on to our veterans and their families.   Read the full story: http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/03/26/wounded.warrior/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

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