More veterans need medical services - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

More veterans need medical services

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WALLA WALLA, Wash. - The Walla Walla VA serves about 16,000 military vets each year and it's a number that continues to rise.

"A lot of people like some of my relatives that never used the VA in the past are really feeling a  financial crunch and it's their finances and rising healthcare costs that are turning more people to the VA," said Dave Beebe, OEF/OIF Veteran Program Manager.

Here's the breakdown, from 2007 to 2010 the VA has seen an increase in the following veterans:

Vietnam:  23% increase, currently 6,674 enrolled.

Persian Gulf:  48% increase, currently 2,329 enrolled.

Iraq/Afghanistan:  65% increased, currently 1,429 enrolled.

Beebe says it's the Iraq/Afghanistan veterans who have the highest enrollment numbers and most of them complain about physical pain.

"I had a guy tell me the other day, I'm 22 and my body feel's like it is 72. I've been carrying a 100 pound pack, jumping in and out of buildings and convoys and they also tell me how their legs and backs and muscles hurt"

There's even been an increase in women. In the last four years women have increased a total of 20%, making them the fastest growing segment. In fact, many of them are taking advantage of the VA services because of all the options. "Women have the right to chose a female provider if they want . We can do all the women evaluations, can be done on site or we can contract a job in a local community."

And although the VA has seen a rise in veterans, it's the Korean and World War II vets that they've seen a decline in. Beebe says Korean vets have seen a 5% decline and World War II vets have seen a 20% decline. "I think World War II vets are dying at a rate of 1,200 a day, nationwide, right now. So they are going to be going down," said Beebe.

He also adds that the largest war era veteran is the Vietnam vets and since most of them are over 60, many of them need medical assistance.