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University-affiliated Watson Institute, the war in Iraq, which
former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said would last less than
six months, may cost over $6 trillion over the next 40 years.
Taxpayers will not be off the hook after 40 years, however.
According to an Associated Press investigation into
disability and survivor benefits, we are still paying for conflicts
dating back to the Civil War.
Here’s what some historic wars are costing us, according to the
- The daughter of a Civil War veteran receives $876 a year. The
second-to-last Civil War beneficiary died last
- The Spanish-American War (1898) costs taxpayers a total of
$50,000 annually for 10 beneficiaries.
- World War I-related benefits for 2,289 recipients add up to $20
million a year.
- Compensation linked to World War II peaked in 1991 and now
totals $5 billion a year.
- Benefits for Korean War vets and their families come in at $2.8
billion a year and appear to be leveling out.
- Benefits tied to Vietnam are still rising annually—$22 billion
a year at last count.
Benefits for veterans of the first Iraq war, the war in
Afghanistan, and the second Iraq war cost $12 billion annually—not
including medical care—and the cost is rising. Some 45 percent of
Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have applied for disability
These figures come from four compensation programs that identify
recipients by war. Other expenditures—such as the budgets of the
1,700 facilities the Department of Veterans Affairs operates across
the country—are not easily broken down by conflict and are thus not
included in the tally.
Just a little something to consider next time we decide to start
a quick war.
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