An Associated Press analysis of federal payment records found the government is still making monthly payment to relatives of Civil War veterans, 148 years after the conflict ended, leading many to believe that the U.S. government will be doing the same for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. While many military families come to terms with the sacrifices they make to protect their country, the government has had to pay out more than $40 billion a year to compensate veterans and survivors from the Spanish American War from 1898, World War I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the two Iraq campaigns, and the Afghanistan conflict with costs rising rapidly at the 10 year Iraq war anniversary. As U.S. Senator Patty Murray explains, “When we decide to go to war, we have to consciously be also thinking about the cost” adding that her WWII-veteran father’s disability benefits helped feed their family according to the Associated Press. Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator and veteran, said that government leader working to limit the national debt should make sure the veteran’s need the money as he said “without question I would affluence test all of these people.” Because of the improved battlefield medicine and technology, a greater number of troops survive costing the government more money in disability payments as the Associated Press analyzed the post war cost in each conflict in four compensation programs which include disabled veterans, survivors, survivors of those who died in war or service disability, low income wartime vets over 65 or disabled, and low income survivors of wartime vets or disabled children. The information obtained by the AP gathered the information from millions of federal payment records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. The total compensation with each war:
The Iraq wars, Afghanistan and first Persian Gulf 1990s costs $12 billion a year and total so far at $50 billion since 2003 not including medical car other benefits provided to veterans which is likely to grow.
The Vietnam War costs $22 billion a year 40 years after the conflict and payments are rising as new ailments are added such as diabetes and heart disease. A congressional analysis estimates the total cost of fighting the war was $738 billion in 2011 dollars and the benefits for veterans and families has cost $270 billion since 1970 according to AP calculations.
World War I which ended 94 years ago has cost$20 million every year while World War II cost $5 billion. The Korean War costs appear to be leveling off at $2.8 billion per year. Of the 2,289 survivors of WWI, one third are spouses and dozens of the are over 100 years old.
There are 10 living recipients of benefits tied to the 1898 Spanish American War costing $50,000 per year and the Civil War payments are going to two children of veterans each $876 per year.