There is no greater enemy to the U.S. war machine than public policy lecturer Linda J. Bilmes. The terrorist lady has written several economic reports on the costs of the Iraq occupation — all showing the price of the endless war is gazillions of dollars more than anyone in Washington will admit.
Her latest report (written with Nobel laureate in economics and terrorist professor Joseph E. Stiglitz) got the attention of Veterans Affairs benefits bureaucrats, who figured the war costs would be even greater once you factor in the long-term health care needs of more than 50,000 maimed and injured U.S. troops.
Learn about the anti-American activity of reading public DoD websites, after the jump.
Blimes presented a new report this month (PDF) that was only about the cost of caring for the soldiers who survive attacks and accidents. The number? Between $350 and $700 billion over the lifetimes of these veterans.
Medical advances since the last war we lost (Vietnam) mean that most injured troops who would’ve died from their wounds are now kept alive, even if they live without arms or legs or parts of their brain. In Vietnam, the injured vs. dead ratio was about 3 to 1. In Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s 16 to 1.
What happened next would be hilarious if it wasn’t about 50,500 maimed & disfigured Americans:
What set off the Pentagon was Bilmes’ estimate for the current number of injured of 50,500. William Winkenwender Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, called the Los Angeles Times, Bilmes, and David T. Ellwood — dean of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government — to complain that the real figure is less than half that — just over 22,000. When Bilmes was asked where she got her data, she pointed out that it came from the Department of Veterans Affairs, which in turn gets its data from the Pentagon.
Turns out the VA “misunderstood” the DoD numbers, because the Pentagon doesn’t want anybody adding up the 25,000 or so troops hurt in “non combat” situations to the 22,000 or so it admits have been injured in battle.
Blimes says it hardly matters if somebody falls off a ladder or gets blown apart by insurgents — if they survive, they will be in the VA health-care system for the rest of their lives. A soldier shot by “friendly fire” is no less hurt than one hit by whoever it is we’re supposedly fighting over there.
As for the Pentagon, it has ensured Blimes will never find those numbers on DoD websites again, because all the damning evidence has just been changed on the military websites.
Shooting the Messenger [Inside Higher Ed]