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Record number of US veterans are seeking disability benefits

Nearly 45 percent of new veterans are applying for injury-related compensation.

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A US Military color guard stands ready for a wreath laying ceremony at the World War II Memorial on May 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Nearly 45 percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are applying for injury-related compensation, nearly double those who applied after the Gulf War.

Almost one-third have been granted disability benefits so far, according to the Associated Press. In the last year, those who have applied for disability compensation have claimed as many as 14 different ailments.

The New York Posted noted that administrators give a number of reasons for the increase in claims, including the fact that wounded soldiers are surviving more injuries than previous generations of veterans because new advances in body armor and improved battlefield care allowed many of them to survive wounds that in the past would be fatal. 

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Other factors that could be leading to more veterans seeking compensation are the weak economy and more awareness of mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder. Aggressive outreach and advocacy efforts also have brought more veterans into the system, according to Nola.com, which must evaluate each claim to see if it is war-related. Payments range from $127 a month for a 10 percent disability to $2,769 for a full one.

Of those filing, nearly 28 percent are members of the Reserve and National Guard. Both of these groups accounted for a greater percentage of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq than they did in previous ones. According to the Associated Press, about 31 percent of Guard/Reserve new veterans have filed claims compared to 56 percent of career military ones.

This does not seem to be a burden on the Department of Veteran Affairs.

"Our mission is to take care of whatever the population is. We want them to have what their entitlement is," Allison Hickey, the VA's undersecretary for benefits, told the Associated Press. 

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120529/record-number-us-veterans-are-seeking-disability