March 20, 2013

Veterans' benefits: The costs of war are huge, and rising

By Mike Baker / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Juanita Tudor Lowrey, 86, holds a photo of her father, Civil War veteran Hugh Tudor. Lowrey received Civil War pension benefits until she was 18.

The Associated Press

OUTBREAK OF VIOLENCE IN IRAQ A REMINDER OF INSTABILITY

BAGHDAD — A wave of bombings and assassinations rattled parts of Iraq, including the capital, on Tuesday, leaving at least 60 dead and offering a grim reminder of the country's instability a decade after the United States military invaded.

Citing deteriorating security, officials announced a delay of provincial elections scheduled to take place next month in Anbar and Nineveh, two predominantly Sunni provinces that have become hubs of unrest and protest in recent months.

Tuesday's violence, which marked the deadliest day in Iraq this year, introduced a new irritant to the country's volatile politics. The powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr threatened to join other factions boycotting the coalition government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, saying the government is not keeping its citizens safe.

Plumes of smoke darkened an otherwise clear blue sky when the explosions started in the capital after 8 a.m. By afternoon, the city's streets were largely deserted, as Iraqis took shelter.

The bombings were in mainly Shiite areas of Baghdad, following a strategy that Sunni militants have employed in the past to stoke sectarian tension.

No group claimed responsibility for the attacks, and it was unclear whether they were meant to send a message on the 10th anniversary of the war that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, a milestone that has gone largely unmentioned here.

"We live in bitterness," said Waleed Farhan, a 36-year-old driver in Amel, one of the districts targeted. "How long are we going to stay in this situation?"

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement Tuesday that the anniversary is an opportune time to reflect on the "scars of war" and sacrifices of American troops.

 

– The Washington Post

Simpson said he has a lot of concerns about the government agreeing to automatically compensate for those diseases.

"That has been terribly abused," Simpson said.

Since heart disease is common among older Americans and is the nation's leading cause of death, the future deaths of thousands of Vietnam veterans could be linked to their service and their benefits passed along to survivors.

A congressional analysis estimated the cost of fighting the war was $738 billion in 2011 dollars, and the post-war benefits for veterans and families have separately cost some $270 billion since 1970, according to AP calculations.

World War I, World War II and the Korean War

World War I, which ended 94 years ago, continues to cost taxpayers about $20 million every year. World War II? $5 billion.

Compensation for WWII veterans and families didn't peak until 1991 -- 46 years after the war ended -- and annual costs since then have only declined by about 25 percent. Korean War costs appear to be leveling off at about $2.8 billion per year.

Of the 2,289 survivors drawing cash linked to WWI, about one-third are spouses and dozens of them are over 100 years in age.

Civil War and Spanish-American War

There are 10 living recipients of benefits tied to the 1898 Spanish-American War at a total cost of about $50,000 per year.

The Civil War payments are going to two children of veterans – one in North Carolina and one in Tennessee – each for $876 per year.

At age 86, Juanita Tudor Lowrey is the daughter of a Civil War veteran. Her father, Hugh Tudor, fought in the Union army.

After his first wife died, Tudor was 73 when he remarried her 33-year-old mother in 1920. Lowrey was born in 1926.

Lowrey, who lives in Kearney, Mo., suspects the marriage might have been one of convenience, with her father looking for a housekeeper and her mother looking for some security.

He died a couple years after she was born, and Lowrey received pension benefits until she was 18.

Now, Lowrey said, she usually gets skepticism from people after she tells them she's a daughter of a Civil War veteran.

"We're few and far between," Lowrey said.

 

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