Not only do wounded veterans have to worry about the backlog at the Veterans Administration, but they also have to worry about increases in health-care costs as they age and as their healthcare needs change. A recent News21 article written by Jessica Wilde points to veterans’ higher survival rates, longer tours of duty, and “polytraumatic” injuries as factors that are raising healthcare costs for post-9/11 veterans. Wilde writes that more than half of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are between the ages of 18 and 32, and are expected to live 50 more years.
“We should help an amputee reduce his cholesterol and maintain his weight at age 30 to 40, rather than treating his coronary artery disease or diabetes at age 50,” according to the 2012 Military Medicine report. Unfortunately appointment wait times and living a long distance from the nearest VA hospital can be barriers to obtaining needed healthcare.
The article also profiles Jerral Hancock, an Army veteran who lost his arm and the use of both legs after driving over an improvised explosive device on Memorial Day in 2007. Now age 27, he relies on an arm that can attach to his shoulder, two wheelchairs, a passenger bus with a wheelchair lift, and full-time care from his nearby mother and stepfather. It is clear that for veterans like Hancock, obtaining their VA disability benefits is only the first step to getting the proper health-care.