Veterans’ disability costs climb

What the nation owes each year to veterans who are…

What the nation owes each year to veterans who are disabled by war and service has more than doubled since 2000, rising from $14.8 billion to $39.4 billion in 2011, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The toll of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where troops served repeatedly in combat zones, is a key contributor to escalating costs of individual disability payouts, said Alison Hickey, VA undersecretary for benefits.

“I would point first and foremost to multiple deployments,” said Hickey, a retired Air Force brigadier general. “I would call it unprecedented demand.”

The 3.4 million men and women disabled during their service, some of them having served in World War II, are about 15 percent of the nation’s 22.2 million veterans.

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