Here’s a bracing chart from a new report from the Congressional Research Service detailing the cost of veterans’ care:
In FY1940, the budget authority for veterans’ benefits and services was $561.1 million, and in FY2012 the budget authority was $125.3 billion, or more than 200 times the FY1940 budget authority. In constant 2011 dollars (i.e., inflation-adjusted), the FY2012 budget authority is 14 times the FY1940 budget authority. The increases over time have reflected the impact of increases in the number of veterans as the result of wars and other conflicts, the aging of the veteran population, and changes in benefits and services provided for veterans.
With the nation’s wars winding down, and its budget pressures going up, the cost of veterans’ care is going to get a lot of attention. Last week, you may recall, the Bipartisan Policy Center warned that annual costs for vets will eclipse that of active-duty troops in 2014.