Veterans Healthcare Costs Video

A 2007 paper out of Harvard University says providing care and disability compensation for just the deployed service members from the global war on terror is an entitlement cost the United States will be paying for the next 40 years.
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Rebecca Fox: They come from different parts of the country. Eugene Benford from Alabama, Charles James from Missouri, Karen Key from Washington State. Like their geographical locations, the healthcare needs of American veterans are just as varied. Karen Key: I have a little bit of issue with depression. Eugene Benford: So I got contact with all of them and mesh my lungs and my nervous system, digestive system, and parts of my heart. Male Speaker: My left leg hurts, back, and I have got aching arms and diabetics I've got about 60 diseases. Karen Key: Plus I had a knee injury, and a hip injury when I was in the service. Charles James: I have a plate. Rebecca Fox: For many of these illnesses and injuries veterans turn to the Department of Veterans Affairs for Care. In 2006 alone, more than five million people received healthcare in the VA's 1400 facilities; and the number knocking at the doors only expected to grow. At the close of 2006, about one-and-a-half million US service members had been deployed to the global war on terror. It's anticipated that at least 48% of them will eventually seek medical treatment from the VA. Joy Llem: I mean we have the influx veterans that are returning, that have been injured; and may have suffered knee, back, more mild to moderate head injuries, then a variety of other conditions. And they will need care probably throughout their life for those conditions as they worsen, and those are -- the majority of people versus the very severely injured, which are smaller in number; but they are very severely injured and there we have times that are very long. And it's a life time of care that's needed to provide for them. Rebecca Fox: A 2007 study at a Harvard University says, "Even if no more troops are deployed the long term of cost treating returning veterans will reach $208 billion assuming the supply of healthcare exist to treat them. Several veterans we spoke with that disabled Americans Veterans National Conference say they're already seeing the strain on the system. Randolph Brooks Jr.: Everything is backed up, either because of negligence or incompetence; I don't really care, but I know that -- it's not how veterans should be treated. Harold Williams: Quite a few of these individuals who are deserving a veteran benefits in the healthcare system at the use of supplemental insurance. Because they can't travel that for or their condition is of such immediate concerns that they can't afford to travel that for or to wait that long. Rebecca Fox: Even if your family and friends aren't advocating at events like this one, and even if you have no ties to the military whatsoever, veterans we spoke with say their healthcare should matter to every American, because their care will ultimately effect you. Brian Gray: If you look at it in a broader sense, the healthcare the veterans affects the healthcare of every other person in the country too. In the way I am seeing it anyway. You have all these veterans that have served their country and they've done their job. Okay, you don't have enough facilities to actually help with the cure of these veteran. So if they can get it the VA system, then they are going out to the civilian hospitals and this civilian hospitals are being overloaded with emergency room care, because of these veterans, that's making it more expensive for the regular people trying to get in there to try to take care of their own facilities, or their own needs that they have. Rebecca Fox: From purely a tax payer standpoint the Harvard paper says providing care and disability compensation for just the deployed service members from the global war on terror is an entitlement cost the U.S. will be paying for the next 40 years. Depending on several factors like length of deployment and if more troops are deployed their price tag will range from $350 to nearly $700 billion. This study along with several other reports, call for increased funding and reforms in the veteran's healthcare system. So no f

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