'Antiquated' VA Ill Equipped to Care for Vets

Bush pledges massive overhaul, which requires major funding
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2007 2:25 PM CDT
'Antiquated' VA Ill Equipped to Care for Vets
Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. left, takes questions about the Iraq War, as he brings his presidential campaign to a town hall meeting at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1622 in Lomita, Calif., Friday, Sept. 7, 2007. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)   (Associated Press)

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." (More Department of Veterans Affairs stories.)

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