The AP reports that despite a decline in total veterans “as soldiers from World War II and Korea die,” the government “expects to be spending $59 billion a year to compensate injured warriors in 25 years, up from today’s $29 billion,” according to internal documents. The VA “concedes the bill could be much higher” as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars go on:
Inflation accounts for a big chunk of the increase. But even when the VA factors out inflation, the compensation for disabled veterans would still grow from $29 billion to $33 billion in today’s dollars — a more than 10 percent increase. And the department acknowledges the estimate could rise by 30 percent.
Earlier this year, Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz predicted that a “lifetime health-care and counseling for veterans” from Iraq and Afghanistan could in part push the total cost of the wars to $5 trillion to $7 trillion, far higher than current expectations.