November 09, 2012

America Must Improve its Care for Veterans, Says CNAS Expert

more than a decade of war, several years of constrained national budgets and a
changing veteran population, the second Obama administration must confront how
best to uphold its promises to the nation's men and women who serve or have
served in uniform. 

In Upholding the Promise: A Strategy for Veterans and Military Personnel ,
CNAS Non-Resident Senior Fellow Phillip Carter urges the Obama Administration
to develop an inclusive, strategic policy approach that serves veterans and
military personnel as well as they have served the nation. A veteran of the war
in Iraq, he calls upon the administration to tackle urgent issues such as
military and veteran suicide while working over the long term to prevent the
civilian "sea of goodwill" toward veterans from turning into an ocean
of apathy as current wars wind down and public attention turns away from the
men and women who have fought those wars.

Mr. Carter points out that the next Obama team will face some hard choices that
will deeply affect the national veteran and military community. Citing the
human dollar cost of national security, he reports that during the 11 years of
the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the U.S. government spent more than $2 trillion
on the 2.5 million Americans in uniform and the 22 million veterans who served
before them. Between 2002 and 2012, this translated into a 46 percent increase
in military personnel costs and a 95 percent increase in funding for the
Department of Veterans Affairs, says Mr. Carter, even though the number of
active and reserve troops increased only slightly and the number of veterans
declined during this time.With the wars winding down and the nation grappling with a $16 trillion
national debt, this level of spending is unsustainable, he argues.

Download Upholding
the Promise: A Strategy for Veterans and Military Personnel

In the context of this operational and fiscal environment, Mr. Carter
identifies three sets of veteran and military personnel policy challenges that
the second Obama administration must tackle. These include:

  • Immediate
    issues - such as suicide, homelessness and veteran unemployment;
  • Operational
    issues - such as access to health care and ensuring government agencies
    can work together more seamlessly; and
  • Strategic
    issues - such as creating an effective structure of federal agencies and private
    actors to serve veterans and military personnel, planning for the next
    generation of veterans and continuing to provide leadership to bridge the
    civil-military divide.


Center for a New American Security (CNAS)
is an independent and nonpartisan research institution that develops strong,
pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies. CNAS leads
efforts to help inform and prepare the national security leaders of today and



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