Vets' long-term care will be costly

Feb. 2, 2007 at 8:50 PM
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BOSTON, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Caring for U.S. veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could cost $662 billion over 40 years, a researcher at Boston's Harvard University said.

Linda J. Bilmes, a lecturer in public policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, said the Bush administration isn't adequately prepared to pay for the medical care and disability benefits of returning veterans.

Bilmes, the former chief financial officer and assistant secretary of the U.S. Commerce Department, said many soldiers are surviving injuries that would have killed them in past wars. The Department of Veterans Affairs said there are 16 "non-mortally wounded" soldiers per battlefield death, in comparison to the 2.6 wounded per death in Vietnam, Bilmes said.

Also driving costs up is the number of soldiers eligible for disability who do not fall into the "wounded" category because of other medical problems, including mental health conditions, she said.

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