January 28, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC-- [Excerpt provided by Inclusion Daily Express] What the nation owes each year to veterans who are disabled during service has more than doubled since 2000, rising from $14.8 billion to $39.4 billion in 2011, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The toll of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where troops served repeatedly in combat zones, is a key contributor to escalating costs of individual disability payouts, says Allison Hickey, VA undersecretary for benefits.
"I would point first and foremost to multiple deployments," says Hickey, a retired Air Force brigadier general. "I would call it unprecedented demand."
The 3.4 million men and women disabled during their service -- some of them having served in World War II -- are about 15% of the nation's 22.2 million veterans.
The disabled veteran population has increased 45% since 2000 and may grow sharply with a new generation who seek compensation for more ailments and are savvier than their elders about their VA rights, say Hickey and veterans advocates.
Veteran disability costs more than doubled since 2000