1. When a US service member dies, the US Department of Defense (DoD) pays a death gratuity of $100,000. Not mentioned by Ms. Ehrenreich is that, in addition, nearly all (more than 95 percent) of US service members have life insurance in the amount of $400,000. These policies are administered by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Therefore, for the 4,077 US service members who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars through August 4, 2007, as reported by DoD, more than $2 billion was already paid by US taxpayers to the beneficiaries of our fallen.
2. There are now 300,000 US service members deployed to the two war zones, including those aboard ships and in neighboring nations.
Therefore, if all 300,000 were killed, at $500,000 each, then the cost would be $150 billion.
3. The total cost of the war for veterans, obtained using the Freedom of Information Act and utilizing the expertise of a Harvard University professor, is estimated at 700,000 wounded, injured, and ill who will need up to $700,000 in medical care and disability benefit payments over the next 40 years.
Hopefully, The Nation will contact subject matter experts to do fact checking in order to verify and improve the statistics reported in your columns.
For more information, please see our VA and DoD Fact Sheets.