A Marine Corps veteran is suing the U.S. government, alleging that it has historically discriminated against Black military veterans, denied them access to housing and education benefits, and rejected service-related disability claims at far higher rates than other veterans, Task & Purpose reported.
The suit – filed Nov. 28 by the Yale Law School Veterans Legal Service Clinic on behalf of Conley Monk Jr. – claims that Monk Jr. and his father were rejected by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) when trying to access the home loans, medical care, and educational benefits.
“After he returned from service in the Vietnam War, the VA denied Mr. Monk’s applications for education, housing, and disability benefits for decades, before finally agreeing in December 2020 that he was, in fact, eligible all along,” a Yale Law School Veterans Service Clinic announcement read. “Since then, Mr. Monk has obtained records from the VA showing a statistically significant difference in benefits claims outcomes between Black and white veterans. Specifically, for decades, VA has been more likely to deny Black veterans applying for benefits than white veterans.”
The lawsuit is intended to open a legal pathway for other Black veterans to seek compensation for benefits that may have been denied to them.
There is a statistically significant difference in determinations for VA disability benefits 2001-2020, according to the legal clinic. The VA denied an average of 29.5% of disability claims filed by Black veterans, compared to the 24.2% for white applicants, the suit claims.
And in each year of the VA data, Black veterans were denied disability benefits at significantly higher rates than white veterans. The VA did not track decisions on disability claims before 2001, according to court documents.
“The negligence of VA leadership, and their failure to train, supervise, monitor, and instruct agency officials to take steps to identify and correct racial disparities, led to systematic benefits obstruction for Black veterans,” the suit claims.
“Throughout history, there have been unacceptable disparities in both VA benefits decisions and military discharge status due to racism, which have wrongly left Black Veterans without access to VA care and benefits,” VA press secretary Terrence Hayes wrote in a Tuesday statement. “We are actively working to right these wrongs.”