Where veterans are concerned, put money where mouth is

The following editorial is from the Pocono Record in Stroudsburg, Pa.

Nov. 11—Truly honoring American veterans involves far more than raising the flag, attending a parade and acknowledging their service. It calls for society’s willingly paying for the aftermath of war. In these days of modern weaponry and advanced medical care, that tab is a heavy one — and rising.

Government, and society, cannot always predict accurately what veterans’ health care and disability expenses will cost over the years. But conflicts claimed thousands non-military Americans’ lives through military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many have died in the line of duty, but millions more have survived. The cost of caring for them is higher than anyone predicted.

For one thing, a higher percentage of veterans now survive serious wounds. Many of them require intensive, long-term treatment for physical injuries. And there’s a higher incidence of post traumatic stress disorder — and higher numbers of veterans seeking treatment for the condition. Meanwhile, medical research has shown an association between PTSD and higher rates of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, bronchitis, asthma, liver and peripheral arterial disease, a connection economists Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stigliz cited in their 2008 book, “The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict.”

Thousands of brave American men and women serve the United States not only in the arena of war, but around the world to defend our nation and national interests. They stand guard against hostile military forces and independent, unpredictable terrorists. Today, we recognize their service. But along with paying tribute to that service, all Americans, including Congress, should come to grips with the cost of supporting them in the wake of their duties. Providing them with medical care, covering the cost of disability pay, pension and other payments they earned through service, should be a top priority. Yet that funding is vulnerable, subject to the “discretionary funding” approach that requires Congressional approval. Just as carefully as the President and Congress weigh sending our troops into combat, they should prepare, and guarantee to fund, the medical and other needs of injured and recovering veterans.

Any nation that knowingly sends its young and promising citizens into harm’s way should be equally willing to care for them afterward. That is honoring our veterans.


(c)2015 the Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa.

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