Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.

Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012

After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.

We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.

Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.

I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.

Thank you very much.

Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.


Monday, December 5, 2011

The Costs of War

By BJ Bjornson

Some recommended reading for everyone from McClatchy on an issue that usually doesn�t get much press coverage when it comes to paying for wars, the costs of treating the veterans after the war has ended.

Some choice quotes:

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may be winding down, but the long-term costs of caring for those wounded in battle is on path to rival the costs of the Vietnam War.

. . .

According to VA and Department of Defense information compiled by the advocacy group Veterans for Common Sense, 2.2 million service members have deployed to one of the wars since Sept. 11, 2001; 942,000 have deployed two or more times.

Of those, 6,300 service members have died, and 46,000 have suffered non-fatal wounds in action. But more than 600,000 veterans have filed for VA disability benefits, and more than 700,000 have been treated in the VA's medical system.

"Right now, VA is getting about 10,000 new Iraq and Afghanistan claims and patients per month," said Paul Sullivan, executive director of the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, which helps veterans file their disability claims. "The numbers are devastating."

. . .

Veterans today are applying with greater frequency and greater urgency than in years past.

Part of that, Bilmes said, is the nature of these wars. In previous wars, a general seeing a brigade under stress might have pulled it back � putting the soldiers on kitchen duty for a while, she said. Now, those functions are being handled by contractors, eliminating that relief valve.

"The guys who are out in the field are relentlessly out in the field," she said.

Beyond that, far more soldiers in this all-volunteer military have been back for two, three, four or five tours, and the long-term impact on hearing and on traumatic brain injuries caused by improvised explosive devices will be felt for years.

That last point is one that speaks to me, as it has come up many times before, though I hadn�t made the distinction regarding the use of contractors for non-combat work interfering with the means to give troops some down time before this.

The U.S., and the other countries involved in Iraq and Afghanistan, have been fighting these wars with their armies still more or less at peacetime levels, so as to not inconvenience the voting public too much, or make the more direct costs of the war all that visible beyond the relatively small population of those serving and their families. The burdens of these wars are being felt disproportionately on a very small group, and their limited size is concentrating that stress and burden to a degree it never would otherwise.

This is part of the arguments used by those looking for a reinstatement of the draft, a means of sharing the sacrifice far more equally as well as making starting such wars a lot more politically difficult.

The main point, however, is that the U.S. will be feeling the effects of these wars at home, and paying for them, for a long, long time.

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