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date: 02 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Regardless of whether they are characterized as compensation or entitlements, the scope of military benefits is more expansive than many assume, and far more generous than most other private or public sector employment benefits packages or public sector entitlements. The essay that follows reviews the historical contours of military and veterans’ benefits. It discusses the major programs for both current and former military members through the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and program requirements. The near universality of this integrated web of institutional supports for military populations stands in stark contrast to the fragmented, conditional nature of the civilian welfare state. Two key features of the military benefit system are emphasized: the camouflaged nature of these generous benefits as part of the American welfare state and inequality in access to these benefit programs. The chapter concludes by discussing the coming challenges to the military welfare system, including the ability to maintain generous health care and pensions for military retirees and the challenge of caring for a generation of wartime veterans, more of whom have survived catastrophic injuries requiring a lifetime of care than in previous generations.

Keywords: veterans, military, benefits, pensions, health care

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