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Black Veterans Discriminated Against For Decades, Lawsuit Against U.S. Government Alleges

The pattern of alleged racism caused the veterans to miss out on housing and education benefits disproportionately.

On Monday (Nov. 28), a lawsuit was filed alleging the U.S. government has discriminated against Black military veterans for decades, which has caused them to miss out on housing and education benefits disproportionately compared to their white counterparts.

According to The Hill, the suit was brought by Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic (VLSC) on behalf of Vietnam War veteran Conley Monk Jr. It asserts that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) denied Monk’s applications for education, housing, and disability benefits since he returned home from the war.

The clinic contends the lawsuit could “provide a legal pathway for Black veterans to seek reparations from the VA” and, in the future, help determine whether individuals can seek compensation from the federal government for systemic prejudices that have disadvantaged them.

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“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 regarding the lawsuit, according to 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,” he added. “Mr. Monk — and thousands of Black veterans like him — deserve redress for the harms caused by these negligently administered programs.”

According to the Washington Post, who first reported on the lawsuit, internal VA data used in the legal proceedings showed that from 2002 to 2020, the agency denied Black applicants seeking disability benefits nearly 30 percent of the time. In comparison, white applicants were denied 24 percent of the time.

VA press secretary Terrence Hayes says the agency is working to combat “institutional racism,” but didn’t mention the lawsuit.

“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.”

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