Photograph by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
The newest veterans are filing for disability benefits like never before, reveals the Associated Press in an extensive look at the survivors of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars at a time when the nation is commemorating the more than 6,400 that have been killed in the conflicts. A “staggering” 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the two wars are claiming some sort of compensation for their injuries.
That number represents more than double the estimated 21 percent who filed claims after Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield in the 1990s. And the raw numbers themselves don’t tell the full story. The Afghanistan and Iraq veterans are also claiming an average of eight or nine ailments, with the latest ones increasing that number to somewhere between 11 and 14. That represents a surge from previous wars but it’s unclear whether these new veterans are worse off than their predecessors. It is true more troops are surviving wounds and there’s more awareness of problems such as PTSD, but the poor economy and job market may also play a role.