War is expensive to wage, and it takes a lot of money to heal physical and psychological wounds. Unwilling to face up to the true costs of modern warfare, the government has systematically tried to weasel out of covering the full costs of care for injured and ill veterans for decades.
Consider the years of delay veterans endured before the government finally started to address its Agent Orange problem. More than a third of the 7.4 million Americans who served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1971 were exposed to that defoliant.
Many of them got sick and had to fight hard to get any help at all. A few legal battles continue over which military units qualify for coverage and which don’t.
Meanwhile, veterans from more recent conflicts are waging other battles on the home front.
For example, there’s the suffering of the people who took part in our nation’s first military foray into Iraq — a condition often called Gulf War Syndrome. More than 20 years later, the government is only gradually accepting that their plight is real.
The latest battle centers around the various lung disorders suffered by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Those illnesses are probably linked to the military’s general reliance on massive and toxic burn pits to do away with all kinds of trash, including wrecked Humvees.