The one enduring lesson to be learned about warfare is that the war had better be worth it. The costs always fall disproportionately on a few. For those few, the war never ends. At a minimum we owe it to them to do whatever we can as a nation and a people to ensure that they have everything necessary to redeem what they can from their future lives.
Wounded warriors face home-front battle with VA
Ty Ziegel lost an arm, part of his skull when he was attacked in Iraq
VA initially rated his brain injury at 0%, meaning he got no compensation for it
Another vet: VA rejected his claim, saying his wounds were "not service connected"
Ziegel: "I want to make the VA system better"
WASHINGTON, Illinois (CNN) --
Ty Ziegel peers from beneath his Marine Corps baseball cap, his once boyish face burned beyond recognition by a suicide bomber's attack in Iraq just three days before Christmas 2004.more here
Ty Ziegel, a Marine, was badly wounded in Iraq. He battled the VA over disability benefits when he returned.
He lost part of his skull in the blast and part of his brain was damaged. Half of his left arm was amputated and some of the fingers were blown off his right hand.
Ziegel, a 25-year-old Marine sergeant, knew the dangers of war when he was deployed for his second tour in Iraq.
But he didn't expect a new battle when he returned home as a wounded warrior: a fight with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Watch Ziegel display his model skull »
"Sometimes, you get lost in the system," he told CNN. "I feel like a Social Security number. I don't feel like Tyler Ziegel."
His story is one example of how medical advances in the battlefield have outpaced the home front. Many wounded veterans return home feeling that the VA system, specifically its 62-year-old disability ratings system, has failed them. See photos of these Iraq war heroes »
"The VA system is not ready, and they simply don't have time to catch up," Tammy Duckworth -- herself a wounded veteran who heads up the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs -- told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in March.
VA Acting Secretary Gordon Mansfield said cases like Ziegel's are rare -- that the majority of veterans are moving through the process and "being taken care of." He also said most veterans are fairly compensated.
"Any veteran with the same issue, if it's a medical disability, ... it is going to get the same exact result anywhere in our system," he said.
More than 28,500 troops have been wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom, including about 8,500 that have needed air transport, according to the U.S. military.
A recent Harvard study found that the cost of caring for those wounded over the course of their lifetime could ultimately cost more than $660 billion....