The recent report from Brown University updated the veterans’ portion of the IAVA wars to now cost taxpayers $1 trillion until 2053.
It is important to note Dick Cheney told American taxpayers the war in Iraq alone would only cost around $80 billion. The oil from the country was supposed to offset the cost of the war, which is now estimated to be almost $5 trillion.
The report, Costs Of War, is an updated extension of the research conducted for the book The Three Trillion Dollar War published in 2007. Brown University published the updated report that reached the above conclusion that the wars will cost almost $5 trillion as a conservative estimate.
According to the report, the overall cost to care for veterans has eclipsed the previous forecast of $700 billion from 2007. The wars at the time were thought to be ending soon-ish. We were all apparently duped about that.
COST OF IAVA WARS FOR VETERANS AFFAIRS
The excerpt about veterans follows:
There are two major categories of future war-related spending — costs for the care of veterans and continuing appropriations for overseas contingency operations. Total costs for the veterans of these wars will increase over time. Peak spending on veterans’ disability and medical care, for every war, occurs decades after the service of those veterans’ ends. The costs for WWI veterans peaked in 1969, for World War II veterans in 1986. Cost for the care of Vietnam War veterans has not yet peaked.
The costs for veterans of the post-9/11 wars will be comparatively greater than for past wars. Specifically, the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan often return with multiple traumas, as well as respiratory and cardiac trouble which may take some years after deployment to emerge. Further, as each veteran ages, their health care needs will become more complex and expensive.
Of those who have been discharged, Bilmes estimated in 2013 that their care over the next forty years would cost approximately $836 billion through 2053. Table 4 details Bilmes’ 2013 estimate of future costs.
Since Bilmes made the estimates in , the number of service members in the VA system has grown to nearly 2 million people. This is thus a conservative estimate of costs for veteran’s care — if only because, unfortunately, the war in Afghanistan will continue to produce more people with complex wounds and conditions who will enter into the VA system. In June 2014, Bilmes updated her estimate of future spending on veterans’ care. Bilmes projects that through 2053, Net Present Value costs for veterans disability, medical, and associated costs of administration for care of veterans will be more than $1 trillion, because the rate and complexity of medical and disability claims has been higher than Bilmes originally predicted. “In addition, a significant number of veteran’s claims are now being appealed, adding to the cost of the process and in most cases, resulting in higher awards for veterans.”
As Bilmes reminds us, even though the Department of Veterans Affairs has “the fastest growing budget in the federal government,” the department “still lacks sufficient funding to fill thousands of vacancies for doctors and nurses and to finance badly needed repairs to its hospitals and clinics.” Long wait times for services have been a persistent barrier for veterans’ access to health care, and ultimately may increase the costs of care.
The Costs of War estimate takes into account the greater number of veterans in the system, and is still likely an underestimate of the final cost because more Iraq and Afghan soldiers will enter the VA system over the next several years and the costs of administration and services for the veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will grow accordingly. This paper uses Bilmes’ estimate of $1 trillion for future veterans-related spending through 2053.
There is no question that these wars in the Middle East will continue and the price tag required of Americans will also continue to rise. Check out the data the Watson Institute at Brown University has gathered on the subject.
How will VA manage the increased costs of these wars?