The U.S. has about 24 million military veterans. Six percent are women,
and about half are from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. While only five percent of World War II
veterans were women, that is closer to 20 percent today. Medical, disability
and other benefits for veterans cost close to $100 billion a year. Because the
military went all-volunteer after Vietnam, and shrank after the Cold War ended
in 1991. The veteran population will shrink to less than half its current size
in the next generation.
percent of Iraq/Afghanistan veterans were wounded, and many of them require
regular treatment by VA medical facilities. That's about the same percentage as
protection, equipment and tactics has kept the death rate down to less than
half what it was in past wars, but the VA is discovering that a lot of war
injuries take a long time to manifest themselves. For example, the VA had
thousands of World War II vets come in with knees and elbows, damaged, and
repaired, during the war, that were now giving out. This was not unexpected.
Athletes, professional and amateur, commonly have minor sports injuries became
major problems later in life. But now, decades after the war injury, there are
more new treatments available. Many World War II veterans got replacement knees
for joints that were damaged and patched up four decades earlier. Today, Iraq
veterans are being told what to expect down the road, and what is being done to
deal with coming sight, hearing or mobility problems.
reconstructive medicine continues to progress, as it has for the last half
century, then wounded veterans of the current war will have treatments that can
keep up with the long term, but often hidden, damage from combat. Particularly
worrying are all those vets who were close when a roadside bomb went off. There
are now medical diagnosis tools (MRI and so on) that can detect the early, and
generally unfelt, damage. By tracking these "quiet injuries" from the
start, the prospects of treating them successfully improve quite a lot. Then
there is the growing number of women who have been injured in combat. As medical
innovators have increasingly discovered, women are different, when it comes to
how they react to many dieses and types of injuries.
ragging the VA gets in the mass media, veterans, in surveys, express approval
for the job the VA does. Part of this is due to the fact that many VA employees
are veterans themselves, or have close family who are.