Veterans Affairs has denied benefits to Black people at higher rates for years, lawsuit alleges

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By Victoria Ebner, NBC

The Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 14, 2019. (Graeme Sloan / Sipa via AP file)

Obtaining benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs has been disproportionately more difficult for Black Americans for decades, a federal lawsuit filed Monday alleges.

“The results of VA’s racial discrimination has been to deny countless meritorious applications by Black veterans, depriving them and their families of care and support that their faithful service has earned,” the lawsuit reads.

Filed in federal court by Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic on behalf of Conley Monk Jr., a Vietnam War veteran, the suit claims Monk was repeatedly denied home loan, education and medical benefits because he is Black.

Monk is far from alone, the filing alleges. According to VA records obtained through Freedom of Information Act litigation brought by the National Veterans Council for Legal Redress, of which Monk is the co-founder and director, 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. And the racial disparity for average acceptance rates was even higher —  6.8%.

“They failed to redress longstanding, pervasive race discrimination and disparate impacts of which they knew or should have known,” the suit reads.

Discover the lawsuit’s details.

These inequalities are why some called for Biden to install more Black veterans in the VA.

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