Ms. Triplett’s pension, small as it is, stands as a reminder that war’s bills don’t stop coming when the guns fall silent. The VA is still paying benefits to 16 widows and children of veterans from the 1898 Spanish-American War.
The last U.S. World War I veteran died in 2011. But 4,038 widows, sons and daughters get monthly VA pension or other payments. The government’s annual tab for surviving family from those long-ago wars comes to $16.5 million.
Spouses, parents and children of deceased veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan received $6.7 billion in the 2013 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. Payments are based on financial need, any disabilities, and whether the veteran’s death was tied to military service.
Those payments don’t include the costs of fighting or caring for the veterans themselves. A Harvard University study last year projected the final bill for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would hit $4 trillion to $6 trillion in the coming decades…
A declaration of war sets in motion expenditures that can span centuries, whether the veterans themselves were heroes, cowards or something in between.
—Michael M. Phillips, writing in the Wall Street Journal. Phillips profiled Irene Triplett, the last living recipient of VA benefits connected to the Civil War. According to Phillips, Triplett, who is 84, “collects $73.13 from the Department of Veterans Affairs, a pension payment for her father’s military service—in the Civil War,” which ended in 1865.
Photo: Library of Congress, Flickr