Like the Eveready Bunny
War Costs Keep Going, and Going, and Going
by James Glaser
I'm pretty sure that most Americans have no clue of just how much it costs to send our troops overseas to fight in a war. I also believe that most Americans have no idea that we still pay veteran's benefits to widows and children of the Civil War.
Every American probably believes that we should pay benefits to those veterans who were disabled while serving their country. I also have to think that we all want to help the widows and orphans of those killed in combat. Some how though, I don't think Americans know quite how much that will cost, nor for just how long those payments will continue.
Congressman Richard Baker, of the 6th District of Louisiana, a Senior Member of the House Veteran's Affairs Committee has a page on his web site that explains many of the costs involved in supporting our veterans
This following paragraph from Congressman Baker's site gives us a hint of how long we will be paying for George Bush's wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and any new wars he starts in the next couple of years.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) was established March 15, 1989, with Cabinet rank, succeeding the Veterans Administration and assuming responsibility for providing federal benefits to veterans and their dependents. Lead by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, DVA is the second largest of the 14 Cabinet departments and operates nationwide programs of health care assistance services and national cemeteries. Care for veterans and dependents spans centuries. The last dependent of a Revolutionary War veteran died in 1911, the War of 1812's last dependent died 44 years ago, the Spanish American War's, in 1962. There are widows and children of Civil War and Indian War veterans who still draw DVA benefits. Some 2,190 children and widows of Spanish-American War veterans are receiving DVA compensation or pension benefits.
It is hard to believe that we are still paying out benefits for the Civil War. That war ended in 1865. Here it is one hundred and forty-one years later, and that war is still taking tax dollars. At that rate we will be paying for George Bush's wars at least until the year 2147. Probably longer than that because people live longer now.
When the Pentagon and the White House went before Congress to talk about attacking Iraq, they said the war would cost us almost nothing, with Iraqi oil revenues paying for much of the costs. Nobody even brought up the continuing costs for the care of our veterans and their dependents.
Today we are being told that we have had 23,222 Americans either killed or wounded in Iraq. Not all of those wounded will be disabled, but many thousands will be. Those numbers are misleading. The New York Times reports, "Data Suggests Vast Costs Loom in Disability Claims."
You see the White House and the Pentagon keep us in the dark about one huge group of causalities from that war. About a third of the 1.5 million American troops who have served in George Bush's wars have been discharged, and more than 100,000 of those veterans have been granted disability compensation. As more are mustered out, more will apply for help
In 2005, the Veterans Administration testified to Congress that 2.6 million veterans were receiving disability compensation. 1.1 million troops served in the First Gulf War, and 291,740 of them have been granted disability compensation. That is over 25%. George Bush's wars could easily cause us to be paying for a half million more disabled veterans by the time he leaves office.
America has been in an almost perpetual war since the big one (WW II). Every war costs a lot of money, but we are never told the total cost. But for sure, your great-great-great-great-grandchildren will still be paying for George W. Bush's wars.
BACK to the 2006 Politics Columns.