60 Minutes reported this evening that the Veterans Administration had a requirement that veterans’ ailments had to be caused by events that occurred during their service. The administration of this appears to have brought the granting of benefits to a near standstill.
This is certainly easy to understand as the correlation of current problems to events that may have occurred decades ago, especially in the ‘fog of war’ is not a matter of simple administration.
From this we have to ask how much health benefits should the government be providing for veterans and what burden is reasonable for the taxpayers to carry.
From the period of roughly 1940 to 1975, nearly all males served in the military. Or, to put it another way, nearly half of the population of the country served in the military. But since then, in particularly since the Gulf War in 1990, fighting the country’s wars has been left to a relatively small number of volunteers. It has been somewhat of a scandal that the few carry all of the burdens of war while the rest of the population goes about business as usual.
While veterans of all wars should have their wounds, whether physical or mental, attended to at the expense of a grateful nation, it may be possible to do even more for the post Gulf War veterans as they are a very small percentage of the male population rather than the entire male population as was the case earlier.
Instead of continuing the practice of correlating ailment with service related incident, it is now reasonable to consider the granting of medical benefit to honorably discharged veterans that is much the same as medical benefits that are provided to civilian employees at their retirement.
This would eliminate the miscarriage of justice for these folks that has resulted from the Veterans Administration’s attempt at correlating ailment to service injury and the cost of that administration as well. In addition, the provision of this benefit would go a small way towards indicating some gratitude from the many to the few.