As the numbers of U.S. war injured in Iraq and Afghanistan soared, the Bush administration admitted to lawmakers on Tuesday it had underestimated funds to cover health care costs for veterans and Congress would have to plug a $2.6 billion hole.
"The bottom line is there is a surge in demand in VA (health) services across the board," said Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson.
The Veterans Administration assumed it would have to take care of 23,553 patients who are veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but that number had been revised upward to 103,000, Nicholson told a House of Representatives panel.
Nicholson told a House Appropriations subcommittee that his agency's estimate of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in need of health care services was now four times greater than thought.
The updated figures underscored how the costs of the Iraq war, approaching $300 billion, were rippling through other parts of a federal budget already under tight spending limits.
Nicholson's testimony, coming after his assurance to Congress in April that veterans' health programs were being adequately funded, angered some lawmakers.
They estimated 23,000 in APRIL 2005 --- Two months later it turned out to be 103,000!!! The lie of Nicholson is undoubtedly the "accross the board" reference to the use of services. It's unlikely that Vietnam and peacetime vets are running to the VA in a huge surge.
I'm not a conspiracist on the unreported deaths issue -- but something unreported is obviously going on when it comes to "wounded". Sure would be nice if the media looked into this before Atrios has to call for another conference on blogger ethics.