This is more than double the rate for Gulf War veterans. For all the publicity given to “Gulf War syndrome,” only an estimated 21% of the veterans of that conflict have filed disability claims.
The recent applicants are also citing a much larger number of ailments than veterans of previous wars — an average of eight or nine per person, which has shot up over the past year to 11 to 14. This compares to less than four for Vietnam War veterans who are currently receiving compensation, and just two for veterans of World War II and Korea.
The causes of the increase, and to what extent it simply reflects the poor economy, are not clear. “Government officials and some veterans’ advocates say that veterans who might have been able to work with certain disabilities may be more inclined to seek benefits now because they lost jobs or can’t find any,” the AP explains.
Much of the change, however, is clearly the legitimate result of more soldiers surving life-threatening injuries, along with an increased incidence of concussions and severe hearing loss resulting from IED blasts. …