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Shape Shifting on Veterans Day
Date:11/7/2007

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is an Op-Ed by David W. Gorman, Washington Headquarters Executive Director, of Disabled American Veterans:

On Veterans Day, politicians will praise the 30,000 troops "officially wounded" in action in Iraq and Afghanistan as if this "statistic" were some kind of "fact." In doing so, they'll harm the men and women who carry the burden of our nation's defense in today's very dangerous world.

That 30,000 number is a fantasy.

Here's the truth about the human cost borne by the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as shown by data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Of the 1.5 million troops who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, 720,000 (48%) are now veterans in the civilian population.

Of these, 202,000 have filed claims for VA disability benefits. The VA granted benefits in more than 90% of the cases processed so far, and will grant more upon appeal or presentation of additional evidence.

In other words, real statistics show that one out of four veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan is disabled in military service. This should shock no one as troops return to the war zones for their third, fourth, and now fifth tours of combat duty.

Of the 720,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, a quarter million have turned to the VA for treatment - more than one out of every three veterans of the combat theaters.

The figures above don't include troops still on active duty, many of whom remain in the service after being harmed by war. They too must not be forgotten.

Yet that 30,000 figure keeps floating in political and media circles as if it had authority. Well, it all depends on what you count. If you intentionally count to get a low number, you'll get a low number. Obviously, someone wants a low number. But what happens as a result?

For one thing, the scandal at Walter Reed Army Medical Center developed as Washington officials dazzled each other wit
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SOURCE Disabled American Veterans
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
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