A fatally wounded US army soldier is being airlifted to a hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (file photo)
The US veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been revealed to be the most medically and mentally troubled generation of all soldiers ever served in the US military.
Some 45 percent of over 1.6 million veterans of the two US wars are now filing for compensation for the injuries they received during the war. The figure is over double the estimate of 21 percent who sought such claims after the Gulf War in the 1990s, top US government officials told the Associated Press.
Moreover, the new veterans say they are afflicted with eight to nine medical disorders on average, with the recent ones even claiming 11 to 14 ailments. This is while Vietnam veterans are receiving compensation for less than four on average, and the World War II and Korea veterans only two.
A larger part of the new veterans are female soldiers, which is 12 percent of those seeking care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Tens of thousands of veterans are now suffering a traumatic brain injury, or TBI. Some are dealing with mild concussions that could get better after a few months. However, serious cases and multiple concussions increase the risk of other problems such as dementia.
Meanwhile, over half of the new veterans were reported to have a mental disorder. Over 217,000 of them were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD).
Over 1,600 of the veterans reportedly lost a limb, with many of them losing fingers or toes. At least 156 are blind, over 177,000 are dealing with hearing loss.
Thousands of the soldiers who came back home are disfigured, some 200 of them even need face transplants.
"The numbers are pretty staggering," said Bohdan Pomahac, a Boston hospital surgeon.