civil war

Irish soldiers during the Civil War

Wikimedia Commons

OLYMPIA, Washington (AP) – If history is judge, the US government will pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the next century as service members and their families grapple with the sacrifices of combat.

An Associated Press analysis of federal payment records found the government continued to make monthly payments to parents of Civil War veterans – 148 years after the conflict ended.

On the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, more than $ 40 billion a year will compensate veterans and survivors of the Spanish-American War of 1898, World War I and II, the War of Korea, the Vietnam War, the two campaigns in Iraq and the conflict in Afghanistan. And these costs are increasing rapidly.

US Senator Patty Murray said such spending should remind the nation of the long-term financial consequences of war.

“When we decide to go to war, we must also consciously think about the cost,” said Murray, D-Wash., Adding that his WWII veteran father’s disability benefits were helping to feed their families.

Alan simpson, a former Republican senator and veteran who co-chaired President Barack Obama’s deficit committee in 2010, said government leaders working to limit the national debt should ensure that veteran survivors need the money they get.

“Without a doubt, I would test the wealth of all of these people,” Simpson said.

With more soldiers surviving combat injuries due to improvements in battlefield medicine and technology, disability award costs are expected to increase significantly more.

The AP identified disability and survivor benefits in an analysis of millions of federal payment records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

To assess the post-war costs of each conflict, AP examined four compensation programs that identify beneficiaries per war: disabled ex-combatants; survivors of those who died while on active service or from a service-related disability; low-income war veterans over 65 or disabled; and low-income survivors of wartime veterans or their disabled children.

cost of war


– The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

So far, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the first Persian Gulf conflict in the early 1990s cost around $ 12 billion a year to compensate those who left military service or the family members of those who left. are deceased.

These after-service compensation costs have totaled over $ 50 billion since 2003, not including the cost of medical care and other benefits provided to veterans, and are set to increase for many years to come. .

New veterans are filing disability claims at historic rates, with around 45% of those in Iraq and Afghanistan seeking compensation for their injuries. Many seek compensation for a variety of ailments at once.

Experts see various factors behind this surge, including a poor economy that has led more jobless veterans to seek the financial benefits they’ve earned, troops surviving wounds of war and more high awareness of head trauma and mental health.

-Vietnam War

It has been 40 years since the United States ended its involvement in the Vietnam War, and yet payments for the conflict continue to rise.

Now above $ 22 billion a year, compensation costs in Vietnam are roughly twice the FBI’s annual budget. And while many disabled Vietnam veterans have been compensated for post-traumatic stress disorder, hearing loss or general injuries, other ailments cause war to come at great cost even after the veterans have died.

Based on an uncertain link to the defoliant agent Orange used in Vietnam, federal authorities have approved

ten years ago, as a disease eligible for cash compensation – and now it is the most compensated disease for Vietnam veterans.

The AV has also recently included

heart disease
among the medical issues in Vietnam that are eligible, and the agency sees thousands of new claims for this issue. Simpson said he was very concerned that the government would agree to automatically compensate for these illnesses.

“It’s been terribly abused,” Simpson said.

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

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

—World War I, World War II and the Korean War

The First World War, which ended 94 years ago, continues to cost taxpayers about $ 20 million each year. The Second World War? $ 5 billion.

Compensation for WWII veterans and families didn’t peak until 1991 – 46 years after the war ended – and annual costs have since fallen by only about 25%. The costs of the Korean War appear to be stabilizing at around $ 2.8 billion per year.

Of the 2,289 survivors who make money from World War I, about a third are spouses, and dozens are over 100 years old.

Some of the other recipients are curious: Forty-seven of the spouses are under 80, meaning they were not born until years after the end of the war. Many of these women were in their twenties and thirties when their aging spouse died in the 1960s and 1970s, and have been receiving monthly payments ever since.

—Civil War and the Spanish-American War

There are 10 living beneficiaries of the benefits of the Spanish-American War of 1898 at a total cost of approximately $ 50,000 per year. Civil War payments go to two children of veterans – one in North Carolina and one in Tennessee – each for $ 876 a year.

Surviving spouses can claim lifetime benefits when troops in current wars have a service-related death. Children under the age of 18 may also be eligible, and these benefits are extended for life if the person is permanently unable to support themselves due to a disability before the age of 18.

Citing privacy, officials did not disclose the names of the two children enjoying the benefits of the civil war.

Their age suggests that the one from Tennessee was born around 1920 and the survivor from North Carolina was born around 1930. A veteran who was young during the Civil War would likely have been around 70 or 80 when both people were born.

It is not unknown. At 86, Juanita Tudor Lowrey is the daughter of a Civil War veteran. His father, Hugh Tudor, fought in the Union Army. After the death of his first wife, Tudor was 73 when he remarried his 33-year-old mother in 1920. Lowrey was born in 1926.

Lowrey, who lives in Kearney, Missouri, suspects the marriage could have been a matter of convenience, with her father seeking a housekeeper and her mother seeking some security. He died a few years after his birth and Lowrey received retirement benefits until he was 18.

Now, Lowrey said, she usually arouses skepticism in people after telling them that she was the daughter of a Civil War veteran.

“We are rare,” Lowrey said.


AP Editor Mike Baker can be reached at Facebook:

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