On Monday (November 28), the suit was filed by Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic (VLSC) on behalf of Vietnam War veteran Conley Monk Jr, whose applications for education, housing, and disability benefits have been denied since he returned home from the war, per The Hill.
According to the suit, discrimination by the VA has left Black veterans without benefits more frequently than their white counterparts.
Yale's VLSC said the lawsuit could “provide a legal pathway for Black veterans to seek reparations from the VA."
“This lawsuit seeks to hold the VA accountable for years of discriminatory conduct,” Adam Henderson, a law student working with the VLSC on the case, said in a statement, per the Hill.
“VA leaders knew, or should have known, that they were administering benefits in a discriminatory manner, yet they failed to address this unlawful bias,” Henderson added. “Mr. Monk — and thousands of Black veterans like him — deserve redress for the harms caused by these negligently administered programs.”
According to internal VA data obtained by the Washington Post, Black applicants seeking disability benefits were denied 30 percent of the time from 2002 to 2020. White applicants were denied 24 percent of the time.
VA press secretary Terrence Hayes said the agency is working to combat “institutional racism."
“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,” Hayes said. “We are actively working to right these wrongs.”