Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan should have access to some of the best health care, facilities, and doctors that this country has to offer. But too often they face long waits and inadequate care. Veterans returning to the United States today suffer high rates of Traumatic Brain Injuries, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and other mental health afflictions, and many return with debilitating injuries or require amputation.
The transition from the Department of Defense health system into the Veterans Administration system can be difficult. There is a long backlog of claims in the VA, and it can take months for veterans to receive needed treatment and compensation. The problems discovered earlier this year at Walter Reed Medical Center indicate a need to fix a system whose infrastructure is outdated and ill-equipped for the veterans of modern warfare.
Returning heroes deserve top-notch health care. This Veteran’s Day, CAP takes a look at the difficulties that veterans face.
1.5 million troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Between 10 and 20 percent of Iraq veterans, or 150,000 to 300,000 people, have traumatic brain injuries.
More than 26,000 troops have been wounded in the two wars.
33 percent of those wounded troops have traumatic brain injuries.
More than 45,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with PTSD.
90 percent of military psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers reported no formal training or supervision in recommended PTSD therapies.
1.8 million veterans of all wars lack health insurance.
3.8 million members of their households lack coverage.
Together, these two populations make up more than 12 percent of the uninsured population in the United States.
The number of uninsured veterans increased by 290,000 between 2000 and 2004.
700,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were eligible for benefits from the VA through Sept. 2006. About one-third have already sought care through the VA.
Pending claims to the VA have increased from 254,000 to about 378,000 from the end of fiscal year 2003 to the end of fiscal year 2006. About 83,000 of them have been waiting six months or more.