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The health costs of post-9/11 wars

September 11, 2012

On this solemn anniversary, an update on the terrible costs of war, including the toll on veterans’ and their families’ lives, from the Brown University-based “Costs of War” project. The ongoing project taps academics of all stripes to tally up the myriad costs of post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations, from the invisible and previously unaccounted for costs to taxpayers to the vastly under-reported costs in civilian lives, economies, and environments.

One research paper that caught my eye, by Rutgers political scientist Alison Howell and anthropologist Zoë H. Wool, has to do with how we are shifting the burden of caring for returning veterans from the military onto families and societies back home. From their work:

Preventive models that exhort armed forces members to be resilient are simply cheaper than the costs associated with providing adequate care. This cost-effectiveness, however, shifts the burden of care onto service members themselves. It should be remembered that the military is a government employer: it would be unacceptable for any other government or major civilian employer to expose their workers to severely unsafe work conditions, and then respond by demanding that their employees seek self-help and resilience training, rather than provide compensation for injuries sustained on the job. At a minimum, the military should be held to these standards.

9/11 cost us thousands of lives 11 years ago. It’s still costing us, in lives, health, and dollars, and will for decades to come.

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