A Black Vietnam war veteran who served in the Marine Corps. has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs alleging that it’s been extremely challenging for Black Americans to receive any benefits for decades, The Washington Post reports.
In his lawsuit filed by Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic, Conley Monk Jr. claims that VA improperly denied his claims for disability benefits, housing assistance, and education benefits for years because he was Black. Even though the Veterans Affairs eventually granted his benefits in December 2020, information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act shows a stark difference between how Black Veterans receive benefits against their white counterparts.
“This lawsuit seeks to hold the VA accountable for years of discriminatory conduct,” Adam Henderson, a law student working on the case with the VLSC, said in a release on the lawsuit .
“VA leaders knew, or should have known, that they were administering benefits in a discriminatory manner, yet they failed to address this unlawful bias. Mr. Monk — and thousands of Black veterans like him — deserve redress for the harms caused by these negligently administered programs,” Henderson said.
The statistics are stark when you see them. From information obtained by the National Veterans Council for Legal Redress and the Black Veterans Project, the average denial rate for disability compensation was 5.3% higher for Black veterans than their white counterparts between 2001 and 2020. “I feel that we need to be compensated and receive some form of reparations. My lawsuit also is going to lead the charge for other veterans. That’s what’s important to me,” said Monk.
Monk also filed a $1 million administrative claim on behalf of his father, Conley Monk Sr., a World War II veteran. He alleges his father was unfairly denied disability compensation for a medical condition he developed while serving. VA press secretary Terrence Hayes responded to the Washington Post , stating the process is not perfect, and the Veterans Affairs is working on improving it.
“Secretary [Denis] McDonough has made clear that delivering world-class, timely, equitable care and benefits to all Veterans is our top priority at VA,” Hayes said. “We are actively working to right these wrongs, and we will stop at nothing to ensure that all Black Veterans get the VA services they have earned and deserve.”