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From Draft NOtices, July-September 2012

Almost Half of All New War Vets Are Filing Injury Claims

– Rick Jahnkow

Military recruiters are known for minimizing the personal risk associated with joining the armed forces. They are very good at exploiting any sense of invincibility that comes from the average teenager’s lack of direct experience with death or serious injury. If necessary, a recruiter will admit to a young person that bad things do sometimes happen in the military, but they only happen to people who are too “weak” or “stupid” to survive the challenges of being a proud member of the U.S. (insert the military branch here).

It could be a little harder to use this recruiting technique now that government officials have told Associated Press that 45% of the 1.6 million veterans of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are filing injury claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Furthermore, the veterans are claiming an average of 8-9 physical or mental injuries each. (For comparison, only 21% of veterans filed injury claims after the 1991 Gulf War.)

According to Dr. David Cifu, the VA’s medical rehabilitation chief, one reason for the high rate of injury claims is that more military personnel are being kept alive. This is presumably because of the greater use of protective gear and improved battlefield medical care.

In a report published by on May 30, 2012, the following numbers were given for physical injuries claimed by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans:

  • More than 1,600 of them lost a limb; many others lost fingers or toes.
  • At least 156 are blind, and thousands of others have impaired vision.
  • More than 177,000 have hearing loss, and more than 350,000 report tinnitus (noise or ringing in the ears).
  • Thousands are disfigured, as many as 200 of them so badly that they may need face transplants. One-quarter of battlefield injuries requiring evacuation included wounds to the face or jaw, one study found.
  • More than 400,000 of them have been treated by the VA for mental health problems, most commonly PTSD.

In other words, every person joining the military today should consider the fact that while there may be only a small likelihood of being killed, everyone sent to a combat zone has almost a 50% chance of suffering a serious injury that could forever limit their ability to get a job, go to college, get married, or have a normal personal life.

Information source:, “Nearly half of new vets seek disability,” May 27, 2012.

This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (


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