The $1 Trillion Tab for Caring for Iraq/Afghanistan Vets

Roughly 2.3 million men and women have served in the armed forces in the decade-old wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told a hearing of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Wednesday that the nation faces a bill of between $600 billion and $1 trillion to care for them as they revert to veteran status.

The legacy of these wars, Rieckhoff said, reflects the "cumulative impacts of the multiple deployments, year after year -- a burden of many carried by few," illustrated by stark unemployment and homelessness statistics.

He said 13.3 percent of recent veterans are unemployed, as of this past June, more than four percentage points higher than the national average, and 11,000 vets between the age of 18 and 30 are homeless.

These vets need help, but according to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, they may be lost in Congress' shuffle to cut the budget and trim the national debt.

Richard Eubank, VFW's national commander and a retired Marine and Vietnam combat veteran from Eugene, Ore., said the threats to vets include freezing of military pay, increased healthcare premiums for military retirees, elimination of presumptive service-connected conditions for disabled and ill veterans and increased pharmaceutical fees for troops, families and retirees.

Oh well, I guess I can hold a bake sale for veterans.

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