Veteran Disability Claims Rising

By Steven Sandberg

WHITE CITY, Ore. — The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to take a toll -physically and mentally – on returning soldiers. Nearly half of the returning veterans from those conflicts are filing for disability benefits – that’s the highest number in history.

Officials at the V.A. in White City say it could be a number of reasons. More veterans could be getting better information about how to apply for disability, or they are getting a better understanding of what qualifies as a combat disability. But either way, more vets than ever are applying.

A new report says 45% of the 1.6 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are filing for disability benefits. That’s up from the 21% of vets who applied after returning from the Gulf War in the early ‘90s. It’s been so many; it’s created a backlog for the veterans administration as they try to process it all, but they say it may all be because veterans are better educated about what qualifies them and how they get it.

The V.A. in White City says they received a high level of interest when many National Guard troops returned home in 2010.