Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Troop support: words or deeds?

Tomorrow is another Nov. 11 and another Veterans Day (née Armistice Day) to celebrate and honor military veterans of past wars, even as more veterans fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are added to the growing roster of dead, wounded and permanently disabled veterans.

Along with more veterans comes more spending by the federal government for their health care and disabilities, plus education and family benefits promised when they enlisted.

With some members of Congress in a sour mood and threatening to cut government costs everywhere, the question is whether military veterans can rely on Washington to continue supporting them with deeds, and not just words.

Spending by the Department of Veterans Affairs has risen rapidly—up 39 percent in the past two years, now totaling $125 billion for the 2011 budget.

With good reason. The VA reports a total of 23.2 million veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and peacetime, of which 5.5 million are disabled, including 3.4 million with service-connected disabilities.

Today's wars have created a new, almost epidemic disability—head and psychological trauma involving hundreds of thousands of men and women. Many have combat-induced post-traumatic-stress disorders and drug addictions.

The toll will increase as U.S. troops continue to be deployed to the war zone.

Congress and the American public have been fervent in their spoken support of the troops, if not the wars.

Will a Congress bent on slashing federal spending show its support in budget deeds?

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