VA, Wars, Cost Analysis, Actual, Prevention
The consequences of wars encompass a landscape far beyond the combat itself. Historically speaking, the way war authorization process is setup in congress, it assumes that there will not be any collateral damage and costs involved. So does, it happens with the series of wars after 9/11. Beside other collateral damage, the appropriation for war related health care needs, especially for mental healthcare needs, was seriously delayed. Even when that was done, at last, the real damage and cost was seriously underestimated and downplayed. The results couldn’t be more devastating. Not only that general public does not understand the real costs attached to these wars, the troops returning home and war vets are facing totally inappropriate care for problems like PTSD, depression and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury).
Divorces, homelessness and suicides are continuously on rise among war vets. About 30% of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are testing positive for mental disorders. Multiple deployments, due to unending wars, increase the risk for a mental disorders from 12% for single deployment to 27% after three deployments. Risk after deployment for less than six months is 15% which increases to 22% after a deployment for more than six months. Female vets are being effected in different and more severe manner, in many respects. For example, divorce rates among male army vets is 2.9% while among female army vets is 8.5%. This is difference is even worse in marines where male divorce rates are 2.8% while the same rates among female Marines are 9.2%.
67 confirmed suicides in 2004 increased to 115 in 2007. The VA mental health issues reporting system is way beyond inadequate. By 2006, 42,506 vets reported mental injury on their PDHA (Post Deployment Health Assessment) forms while 71,036 actually sought mental healthcare. The budgets are insufficient. Lots of vets, especially the ones living in rural areas do not have access to a VA facility located within sixty minutes drive. Many VA facilities are inadequately and insufficiently staffed.
Waiting lists are getting longer and longer. Wait times are increasing. Many have to wait more than six months to see a mental health provider. Large number of providers are not appropriately trained. Some troops with mental disorders may not ever make it to an appointment. Deaths are being reported from delayed or inaccessible care. Unfortunately, this is not the first time something like this is happening. Similar problems were reported after World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War. It looks like that Congress has deliberately designed a system that makes war look cheaper at the time of authorization. The intention here is, clearly, to make authorization of wars easier.
A lot of finger pointing is going on Washington, right now. In my view, no one is exempt. White House, Congress, Military Industrial Complex, lobbies, big media, all are responsible. In their fervor for useless and never ending wars, all of them criminally ignored the people who make ultimate sacrifice in wars, the troops and vets. While politicians were scoring points on national security and war on terror, media was fueling the anxiety in general public and big corporations were getting rich on tax payers money, the ultimate defenders of our freedoms were getting totally neglected.
It is unbelievable that politicians consider the money spent on troops and vets as a burden on our economy, instead of blaming themselves for sending them to useless and endless wars. Unfortunately, corporate media is still giving impression that the resignation of one person will fix all the problems in VA and DOD. This is a completely ridiculous proposition, at the first place. If you look at the reports and studies done war vets, you will find out, without any doubt that the problem are not the people working for VA or DOD.
The real problem is money. Even by most conservative estimates, the 1.4 trillion dollars spending on post 9/11 wars, has drained out all of our resources, and we do not have much left for the people who made ultimate sacrifice. Terrorists failed to defeat us. But, our government is now defeating us, as usual. If we ever loose to terrorists, it will not be because they are too good or because we did not make enough sacrifices. It will be because our politicians and media are stupid and selfish. If you seriously analyze the way business is being done in Washington and in media headquarters, you will find out that no one cares about country or us.
It is all about elections campaign financiers and ratings. My goodness! How can you keep waging one war after the other, and continue those forever, without appropriately acknowledging, planning for and providing remedies for the people who were going to be directly hurt by all the dirtiness of wars? This is incomprehensible unless you fully recognize the dirty money game being played in Washington, and media and corporate headquarters. All the financial problems that we are having, all the troops who died, all the vet families who got ruined, all the unemployment that it caused in vets, all the vets who lost homes and all the suicides that we are observing in vets, can be, and must be, directly blamed on war mongering politicians and media.
No one ever seems to acknowledge that the term “collateral damage” does not apply only to our enemies. We have sustained, and continue to sustain lots of collateral damage, as well, and, if not more, this damage is not less devastating than the direct damage caused by wars. It involves our heroes, their significant others, kids, homes, jobs and lives. Does anyone really care about all that?
While I cannot stress more on the desperate and immediate need for real improvements in VA and DOD, it is extremely important to acknowledge that the actual problem is far deeper and hideous. It lies in our lake of realization of the fact that there is a real human cost attached to wars, regardless of your muscle, money and other resources. Past history of fallen empires proves that wars ultimately become unaffordable in terms of financial, human, societal and ethical cost. We have all the right to defend ourselves. But, we have to make sure that we are not inflicting lethal wounds to ourselves, in the process of extreme excitement and fear mongering.