A new report titled “Shock and Awe Hits Home: U.S. Health Costs of the War in Iraq” by Physicians for Social Responsibility examines an oft-ignored aspect of the Iraq conflict–public health cost of the war. While considerable attention has been placed on cost of the war to the United States and reports have been released highlighting costs to Michigan and Grand Rapids, little attention has been placed on the public health costs. Physicians for Social Responsibility cites a cost of $660 billion. The report highlights a variety of issues ranging from the prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in veterans to the estimated costs of providing long-term care to veterans.
The report concludes by asserting that it is necessary to end the war:
“The costs of providing health care and disability benefits for veterans are not accounted for fully when weighing decisions to use military force. More profound social costs such as unemployment, divorce, and family violence are rarely considered. If these costs were truly and widely understood, nations might be much more reluctant to use war as a means to settle international conflict. The magnitude of the long-term health costs of the war in Iraq is staggering. The supposed benefits of our sustained presence are vague and ever-changing. Every day of continued fighting adds to the terrible price that we are paying.”
Physicians for Social Responsibility has also committed to releasing a similar report examining the health consequences of the war on Iraq’s civilian population.