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TMFBro (< 20)

The lifelong cost of war

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October 04, 2010 – Comments (7)

The St. Pete Times has an article on soldiers who have suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in Iraq or Afghanistan. We often focus on the number of people killed in a war, and give the injured just passing thought -- as if they have a cold and will get over it. However, thousands of soldiers will suffer the consequences for the rest of their lives.

As a country, it is our duty help these soldiers. It won't be cheap. From the article: "Next month, a $65 million medical center devoted to TBI, post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological problems will open its doors at Bethesda; it will eventually treat about 20 patients."

A couple of years ago, Joseph Stiglitz estimated that the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will eventually reach $3 trillion, partially because of the long-term costs of providing for veterans. According to Stiglitz, spending on World War II vets peaked in 1993, 48 years after the war ended.

Which brings up a point raised by Bruce Bartlett in a Forbes article from a February: The U.S. budget deficit won't be eliminated by just cutting earmarks, pork, and foreign aid. We have made a lot of promises to a lot of people -- future retirees, purchasers of Treasuries, veterans -- that will be difficult to break. In the case of these wounded veterans, of course, we shouldn't.

Robert Brokamp, CFP®, is the senior advisor for the Fool's Rule Your Retirement service.

7 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On October 04, 2010 at 4:49 PM, tfirst (36.37) wrote:

If our military is such an honorable institution, why are 25% of the homeless people veterans?

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#2) On October 04, 2010 at 6:06 PM, angusthermopylae (39.91) wrote:

The military is (usually) an honorable institution, but Congress/state legislatures (usually) aren't.

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#3) On October 04, 2010 at 6:26 PM, BroadwayDan (97.29) wrote:

Great post. Thanks. 

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#4) On October 04, 2010 at 6:36 PM, TMFHockeypop (< 20) wrote:

Perhaps the good news in a bad situation is that the VA and their healthcare are amongst the best anywhere.  I must admit that I haven't seen the 25% figure for homeless vets cited above.  I am a vet who receives disability and pay pretty close attention to that and I just haven't seen it.  Here's a pretty good analysis http://www.nchv.org/background.cfm  The reasons why the Vietnam Vet population is so high (and I'm included) has as many socio-economic reasons as war-related IMO.  Interesting blog Robert. 

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#5) On October 04, 2010 at 9:04 PM, russiangambit (29.47) wrote:

> on soldiers who have suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Exactly, it is a huge cost on society which is often overlooked. Especially here in the US because of volonteer army conducting wars in far away places. So you don't really have to get involved unless you want to. 

Many of soldiers can  no  longer function in a civilian society. This is in addition to obvious medical costs .

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#6) On October 04, 2010 at 9:07 PM, outoffocus (23.71) wrote:

$65 mil and it will only treat 20 soldiers? Thats like $3 mil per soldier. lol 

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#7) On October 05, 2010 at 12:38 AM, whereaminow (42.34) wrote:

Perhaps the good news in a bad situation is that the VA and their healthcare are amongst the best anywhere. 

Are you serious?  For "free" healthcare (and by free, I mean exchanging life and limb for it), it is better than laying face down in a sewer.  But no, it's not among the "best anywhere."  It's among the worst care you can get.  

Two kinds of people like the VA.  The first is the guy that has never been to a VA hospital.  The second is the guy that needs routine care and loves that he gets it from the VA for free. 

David in Qatar 

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