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45% of Vets Seeking Disability Payments

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 30, 2012

The Associate Press published a story of soaring disability claims by veterans that has broader implications for society.  The numbers include:

  • 45% of the 1.6 million veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have or are seeking payments for injuries they claim to be service-related.
  • Only 21% of veterans who served in the first Gulf War in the early 1990s sought similar disability payments.
  • Veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars claim nearly 10 ailments per individual compared to Vietnam veterans receiving compensation for 4 ailments each.  World War II and Korea vets on disability claim only 2 ailments each.

There are differences between the sample populations compared above.  For example, women are now involved in frontline soldiering.  In addition, medical technology allows more severely injured soldiers survive.  Also, the technology of warfare has changed including different types of explosives.  However, it is unlikely these differences totally explain the huge increase in disability claims, especially since only a percentage of deployed troops actually see combat.

With the deteriorating economy, a large increase in disability claims has also been occurring in the civilian world.  The rise in disability claims in both arenas is not surprising given the government’s increasing role in supporting citizens it determines to be in need.  While few would argue that those truly in need, especially those injured while serving in the military, should be supported by the country, abuses are inevitable as the nanny-state becomes more pervasive throughout society.

It is a difficult and complex task for a bureaucracy and politicians to determine who is deserving of government assistance and who is not.  Creating successful mechanisms to control the handout process is nearly impossible.  The only way to reasonably control the process is to force the government to live within its means, i.e. a balanced budget.  At least then a generation offering a benefit is forced to pay for it, not future generations.


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