Every dollar in VA growth is taken from another department. Were it not that way, this growth would just go straight into our debt. Irrespective of how sequestration and other Budget Control Act mechanics may be amended, the principle will remain true: postponed costs will grow, and they will come at the expense of other priorities.
As always, it bears repeating that “postponed costs” is an accountant’s term for untreated veterans.
The right thing is caring for these veterans now. It’s also the prudent thing. Professor Bilmes at Harvard has told us about the costs, and the Citizen-Soldier Support Program at the University of North Carolina has shown us a way ahead. The only thing missing is accountability for the Pentagon and VA to set aside their bureaucratic frictions and tackle the problem.
Matthew Leatherman is a resident fellow at the International Affairs Council of North Carolina in Raleigh, N.C. He wrote this for McClatchy-Tribune.