Combat Stress May Cost U.S. Up to $6 Billion
By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 18, 2008; A18
About 300,000 U.S. military personnel who have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depression, a mental toll that will cost the nation as much as $6.2 billion over two years, according to a Rand Corp. report released yesterday.
In addition, nearly 20 percent of the 1.64 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, or about 320,000 personnel, reported a probable traumatic brain injury (TBI) during deployment, the report notes, although it says their treatment needs have not been determined.
The economic cost of the PTSD and depression cases — including medical care, forgone productivity and lost lives through suicide — is estimated at $4 billion to $6 billion over two years. Meanwhile, the cost incurred by traumatic brain injury, based on all cases diagnosed through June 2007, is estimated at $600 million to $900 million.
In a unique exposure to how the media (and probably most of America) looks at the cost of war–particularly this war, in which so few are engaged–Ann Scott Tyson counts the blood and trauma, the busted families and wrecked lives for the Washington Post, in dollars.
$4 to $6 billion over two years, then we can move on to the really important news, like the cost of a Bear Stearns rescue or Barack Obama’s use of the word bitter. 300,000 admitted by the Rand Corp. (the military-industrial think-tank) to having traumatic brain injury, that most wretched of invisible injuries that is the legacy of roadside bombs.
Bitter at being a financial ‘burden‘ after extended stop-loss recycling? Oh, maybe. Bitter that no one other than Doonesbury seems to know they’re gone? Bitter that their jobs and businesses, mortgages and car payments have suddenly gone to hell? Nah. It would be excessively ‘elitist‘ to point out those anomalies to every-day life in America.
Next time you step up to the counter at McDonalds or Burger King, think of the 143 kids (like those serving you) and older guys (like the managers) who had their brains concussed inside their helmets today, so that you didn’t have to run for Canada to avoid the draft or pay one of those nasty old tax increases we used to use to pay for wars. Along with the extra-large fries, take a moment to thank the man who sent them there, your president.
Ask ABC news anchor Bob Woodruff, was the victim of a roadside bomb in Iraq and–because he is wealthy and famous–had exemplary treatment. He and his wife are worth the watch as they talk about that long, hard slog toward a continuing life.
Don’t pass by the link to Woodruff’s story. Take 16 minutes of your time as a memorial to those kids fighting your war.
There are 300,000 Bob Woodruffs out there, a hundred for every single 9-11 victim. The cost of their service to their country will be paid in anguish, pain, tears, recrimination, divorce, estrangement from their children, loss of jobs and businesses. Not a two-year cost, Ann Scott Tyson–a lifetime cost.
We are still haunted, a third of a century later, by the homeless, the wandering, the addicted legacy of the Vietnam war.
300,000 extrapolated over five years is a thousand a week. Put that in your estimates of ‘where we will be’ in September, General Petraeus. We will be 20,000 additionally brain-injured along the way to reconsidering our mission.
The lives that are gone are gone–dead and buried with full military honors, grieved over–but gone. The lives that are lost outnumber those honored dead 75 to 1. For their families and friends there is no funeral, no ‘closure‘ as psychologists have so inanely termed every loss of life, no matter the cause.
Bring closure to this, America. Demand closure to this useless and insane war of George Bush’s ego and David Petraeus’s political ambition. There are ten months left before GB saunters off to his ranch. 40 weeks, give or take a couple.
40,000 additional PTSB victims to haunt America’s unwillingness to put down the foolishness of one man’s war. Have the 44 oz Super Big Gulp with that.