Some 700,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are eligible for VA benefits, and overhauling the overburdened system is firmly in the sights of President Bush and a bipartisan commission. Citing "fundamental system weaknesses," a GAO report last week outlined a huge bureaucracy rife with staffing and training shortfalls, confusing policies, and slow decisions, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The bill will be hefty.
Bush promises a streamlined bureaucracy, but the real issue is cost. The price tag could reach $9 billion in medical and $4 billion in survivors’ benefits over the next decade alone, with one expert foreseeing $700 billion in long-term disability and medical care. "We cannot fund the war," said one congressman, "and fail to fund the warriors."