It is no world-wide secret. The United States is not keeping up (nor will it try to keep up) on the physical and mental health care needs of American Veterans returning from war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
That is why one headline for an Associated Press (AP) article this last weekend in Kuwait’s ARAB TIMES read: “U.S. Can’t Handle Care Demand.”
It sounded like the phrase in the Jack Nicholson & Tom Cruise film where Nicholson shouts, “You can’t handle the truth!” Doesn’t it?
Americans and American congressmen need to come to handle the truth about war costs and healthcare expenses.
The AP article above noted statistics in recent US military reports that show that during the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there are “15 soldiers wounded for every fatality, compared with 2.6 per death in Vietnam and 2.8 in Korea.”
This huge shift in war statistics involving the huge percentage of those surviving--but injured—American veterans in war these days results (1) from U.S. advances in medical handling of injuries and (2) from the fact that the weapons of choice in these 2 locations of asymmetric-warfare have often been roadside bombings.
MENTAL HEALTH AND THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION
Two sets of recent official governmental reports have indicated that already, over 29,000, U.S. soldiers have been treated for physical injuries--while more than 31,000 other cases of non-combat related illnesses and injuries have been reported stemming from both battle field theatres.
Veterans for Common Sense provides a helpful advocacy forum & website for veterans (and their loved ones) looking for support.
Paul Sullivan is executive director for Veterans for Common Sense, and he is cited as stating recently that “the VA’s budget request for 2009 … does not pay adequate attention to chronic problems facing Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, such as drug and alcohol addictions.”
Here is the Veteran Administration’s mental health care website.
However, it needs to be noted that there is currently a backlog of 400,000 medical claims at the VA.
On the other hand, as of last Autumn 2007 it is reportedly a bit easier to have a claim reviewed. (Also, budget expenditures on the VA have increased a little bit over the past year.)
Meanwhile, Dr. Gerald Cross of the Veterans Administration notes that already 68,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan wars have or will have post-traumatic stress disorders.
The same ARAB TIMES article (cited above) noted that 120,000 veterans have filed a class action suit which is now holding hearing in the U.S. courts.
AL-WATAN DAILY in Kuwait also ran these headlines on a related set of recent reports from Washington, D.C: “U.S. Troops in Iraq, Afghanistan Find Harder Time Getting Mental Health Care”.