|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
America's newest veterans are filing for disability benefits at a historic rate, claiming to be the most medically and mentally troubled generation of former troops the nation has ever seen.You've got to love the way Marilynn Marchione of AP is setting up the Republicans' inevitable meme on this -- that these men and women are somehow gaming the system. Nedra Pickler would be so proud. And you've also got to love the way AP is using ridiculous comparisons to the compensation of current World War II veterans, almost all of whom are over the age of 85, which means there aren't that many left. And you've also got to love her reference in the article the "the ordeal for taxpayers" and the implication that many returning veterans are filing for disability because they can't find work. Of course they can't find work, NO ONE can, not in an economy where any work that's out there is contract work with a fixed end, no security, and no benefits. NO ONE can, in an economy where new college grads are discriminated against for lacking experience and everyone over 40 for having too much. NO ONE can, in an economy where every job has a laundry list of skills and having nineteen out of the twenty doesn't suffice, so companies insist they simply MUST send their work to low-wage countries. In a job market like the one we have today (and likely in the future), returning veterans are at serious disadvantage.
A staggering 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related. That is more than double the estimate of 21 percent who filed such claims after the Gulf War in the early 1990s, top government officials told The Associated Press.
What's more, these new veterans are claiming eight to nine ailments on average, and the most recent ones over the last year are claiming 11 to 14. By comparison, Vietnam veterans are currently receiving compensation for fewer than four, on average, and those from World War II and Korea, just two.
It's unclear how much worse off these new veterans are than their predecessors. Many factors are driving the dramatic increase in claims — the weak economy, more troops surviving wounds, and more awareness of problems such as concussions and PTSD. Almost one-third have been granted disability so far.
Government officials and some veterans' advocates say that veterans who might have been able to work with certain disabilities may be more inclined to seek benefits now because they lost jobs or can't find any. Aggressive outreach and advocacy efforts also have brought more veterans into the system, which must evaluate each claim to see if it is war-related. Payments range from $127 a month for a 10 percent disability to $2,769 for a full one.
As the nation commemorates the more than 6,400 troops who died in post-9/11 wars, the problems of those who survived also draw attention. These new veterans are seeking a level of help the government did not anticipate, and for which there is no special fund set aside to pay.
A Soldier's Lament
based on Martin Niemöller First they came for the "welfare queens", and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a "welfare queen". Then they came for the immigrants, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade immigrants. Then they came for the unemployed, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't unemployed. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.