"Typically, when your back is injured it's injured for life," McInroe says. These things just get worse, he says, and adds that veterans who were 50 percent disabled in 2008 will be 70 percent disabled in a couple of years. The peak years for World War II disability payments were in the 1980s, 40 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki".
The alleged killings by SSgt Bales will keep PTSD at the forefront but the real cost of war is the physical injuries sustained from wearing body armor while maneuvering around rough terrain while wearing a pack. During the summer, temperatures rise over 120 degrees further breaking down the body. You get to do all of this while breathing in dust, diesel exhaust (from generators and vehicles), refinery exhausts, insects, viruses, bacteria, and other airborne pollutants. No wonder returning troops have persistent coughs and other respiratory ailments.
On top of all of this, troops are still required to PT. Most services still favor running, push-ups and sit-ups as a measure of physical fitness. Running on knees and hips strained from carrying all of that weight in theater means more injuries and joint damage.
We are going to see a whole generation of 30 and 40 year olds that will move like geriatric patients. By the time they are 50, many of these vets will need hip and knee replacements (if they haven't had to have them earlier).