The National Security Archive has been in a tug-of-war this year with the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA), filing Freedom of Information Act requests on OEF/OIF veteran disability claims. "After nine months of denying their existence" the information today has been forced out and posted:
The VA responded to the Archive's original January 2006 FOIA request for documents about the number of disability benefits claims filed by veterans from the current war in Iraq by claiming that no documents existed, apparently because the reports concern the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) rather than being limited to the Iraq War. Notably, one of the reports indicates that GWOT is the "military name for the current wars in and around Afghanistan and Iraq." A similar report was released in December 2005 detailing Gulf War veterans' benefit activity. An updated copy of this report was released in March 2006.
Only after the Archive administratively appealed the VA's "no documents" claims and advised the VA that it was prepared to file a lawsuit did the agency manage to locate the records.
In educational interest, article(s) quoted from extensively.
First a key finding:
One in four veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars are filing disability claims...
As of July 20, 2006, there were a tad over 1.3 million troops serving under the Global War on Terror (GWOT) umbrella. Of these, 566,901 have been fully discharged. Of these, over 150,000 have filed pension and benefit claims. The breakdown:
- 152,669 claims filed (62,135 reserves/74,095 active)
- 104, 819 granted (36,338 r/68,481a)
- 34,405 claims still pending (17,966r/16,439a)
- 13,445 denied (7,831r/5,614a)
Another stunning figure, the number receiving disability benefits.
86,839 OEF/OIF troops have been granted disability in the 10-100% range.
Documents made available by the National Security Archive today (all pdf files):
- January 30, 2006, document | Compensation and Pension Benefit Activity Among 464,144 Veterans Deployed to the Global War on Terror
- March 31, 2006, document | Gulf War Veterans Information System
- July 20, 2006, document | Compensation and Pension Benefit Activity Among Veterans of the Global War on Terrorism
The number of veterans granted disability compensation, more than 100,000 to date, suggests that taxpayers have only begun to pay the long-term financial cost of the two conflicts. About 567,000 of the 1.5 million American troops who have served so far have been discharged. “The trend is ominous,” said Paul Sullivan, director of programs for Veterans for America, an advocacy group, and a former V.A. analyst.
Mr. Sullivan said that if the current proportions held up over time, 400,000 returning service members could eventually apply for disability benefits when they retired.
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- Lead Ft. Lewis Army Lawyer: Military Stacks Deck Against PTSD, TBI-injured Troops
- Fewer Vets Granted Permanent Disability Today Than in 2001, Based on Percentages
- When Time Isn't on Your Side: The Veterans' Medical Disability Claim System Backlog
- Local Angle on National Story: Veterans Claim Processing Nightmare
- House Bill Introduced to Allow Vets Legal Rep for VA Claims
- House Reps, Dems Push Bush Admin to Increase VA Staffing
- Veteran Filing a PTSD Claim? Here's Help...
- Civil War-era Legal Pay Limit for Vet Claim Help May Be Lifted