The lifelong cost of war
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.