333,000 US Casualties: Are They Covered?
By Maya Schenwar
t r u t h o u t Report
Thursday 14 February 2008
As Iraq and Afghanistan war casualties soar to unprecedented levels, Bush's 2009 Veterans Affairs' budget comes up short.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will treat about 333,000 sick and injured veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in 2009, according to VA statistics released last week. That number is a 14 percent increase over this year's casualty total. Yet, despite the Bush administration's promises to prioritize the VA even as other domestic departments' funds are cut, its annual budget request for next year places more financial burdens than ever on many returning soldiers.
At first glance, Bush's 2009 budget may seem like a boon to veterans: It would increase the VA budget by $3.4 billion.
"The President's ongoing commitment to those who have faithfully served this country in uniform is clearly demonstrated through this budget request for VA," said VA Secretary James B. Peake at a budget hearing last Thursday. "Resources requested for discretionary programs in 2009 are more than double the funding level in effect when the president took office seven years ago."
However, veterans' advocates argue the budget's growth has not kept pace with the skyrocketing size of the veteran community - or the increasing cost of servicing them.
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816,211 claims backlog shows this is only part of the number of wounded.