But when it comes to a war that has been rampaging — and now slogging — for a decade, it is important that from time to time we look to numbers for some clarity. Strip down the politics and even the emotion and look at the cost — the human cost — in numbers. They are indeed men, and women, with families and lovers and friends and companions — but wow, this statistical snapshot, provided by Veterans for Common Sense this (VCS) week in its “Iraq and Afghanistan War Impact Report,” is a critical story in itself.

Fiscal conservatives will be alarmed by the implicit long-term taxpayer cost, which goes far beyond war operations and ginormous private contractor budgets. Social conservatives cannot ignore for long the corrosive effect of so many multiple deployments, suicides and long-term injuries, including PTSD and traumatic brain disorder (TBI), on the family and the community.

Just a taste — for footnotes and sources click here:

Military deployments to the war zone since 9/11:

2.22 million total service members deployed

941,743 deployed twice or more (42 %)

Military casualties in the war zone since 9/11

108,974 casualties

6,211 deaths (including 298 war zone suicides)

45,889 non-fatal wounded in action

56,874 non-fatal medical evacuations due to injury or disease

Veteran Post-Deployment Healthcare Use

1.44 million vets eligible for VA healthcare

711,986 Iraq & Afghanistan vets treated at VA

367,749 vets treated for mental health condition

211,819 vets treat for potential PTSD

9,700 average new vets treated per month

Veterans Post-Deployment Disability Claim Activity

1.4 million eligible for disability payments

624,266 vets filed for disability

133,595 awaiting VA decision

107,718 vets with approved PTSD claim

9,500 average new claims per month


Estimated long term cost impact on VA: up to $900 billion over 40 years 

More Estimated Long-Term Impact on VA

1,032,000 Total New Veteran Patients, Dec. 31, 2013

938,000 Total New Veteran Claims, Dec. 31, 2013


Service Member and Veteran Suicide

462,854 Total Calls to VA’s Veterans Crisis Line

259,891 Calls from Veterans from Any Period of Service

6,030 Calls from Active Duty Service Members

195,933 Calls from Others / Family

16,855 “Rescues” of Suicidal Veterans and Service Members

2,293 Active Duty Suicides Since January 2001

298 Suicides While Deployed in War Zone

1,995 Other Suicides (Deployment Status Unknown)

Veterans’ Claims Pending at VA for All Periods of Service

1,097,489 Sep. 2011, Pending Veterans’ Claims and Appeals

568,711 Mar. 2003, Pending Veterans’ Claims and Appeals

528,778 Pending Claim Increase, Mar. 2003 to Sep. 2011