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Saturday, July 02, 2005

And you thought Social Security was in trouble.

The increasingly large numbers of injured veterans returning from Iraq (an average of 472 are injured, wounded or become sick during each month according to the Christian Science Monitor) is beginning to place a huge strain on a Veterans Administration that did not have enough money to provide care for 7.5 million vets already in the system, and has a $1,000,000,000 shortfall this year. (Interesting factoid: 33% of the homeless men in this country are vets.)

Unlike earlier wars, more soldiers injured in combat are surviving. Because transportation to hospitals is faster and more reliable, soldiers now survive but with debilitating injuries. It's the VA's responsibility to provide health care for these injured. Another concern is the use of depleted uranium in shells. There is rising suspicion that this material is causing illnesses among the troops.

Critics point to waste problems, including an Inspector General report that there were $800 million in overpayments per year. When presented as a percentage of the total annual budget (slightly more than 1%,) it seems to me they are remarkably careful. I doubt if there is a company around that could have a better record than that.
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