It took one Black military veteran 45 years to get his benefits. Yes, you read that right. It took four decades to get what was due to him. War veterans have always struggled to get the benefits due to them, especially Black veterans. But now, that could all change.
According to The Cullman Times, an initiative was signed that ordered the Government Accountability Office to perform a study “to assess disparities associated with race and ethnicity in veterans receiving benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.” It will be led by Senator Raphael Warnock.
Unfortunately, it had to take a measure like this from the federal government. for Black veterans who served our country to receive basic benefits that they fought for, but here we are.
From The Cullman Times:
“This law pushes us one step closer to fully understanding the VA’s standard of care so we can identify and address the systemic challenges facing some of our veterans, and ensure that all our veterans are receiving the equal and just care they earned in courageous service to our country,” Warnock said.
Congress is expected to be briefed on the findings of the study in one year and then presented recommendations within eight months.
The initiative comes following pressure from organizations such as Black Veterans Project, an advocacy group that focuses on addressing systemic racial inequities across the military and veteran landscape.
The group partnered with Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic to research disparities among minority veterans and much of the research is still in progress.
Richard Brookshire, BVP’s board chair, said Black veterans are 29% less likely to receive disability compensation for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), compared to white veterans.
Are we shocked or surprised?
According to The Cullman Times, Richard Brookshire, the board chair for the Black Veterans, referenced how it took 45 years for a Black Vietnam veteran to receive a discharge upgrade to begin accessing his benefits.
45 years?! That’s absurd. Just to get the benefits he’s owed? Ridiculous.
From The Cullman Times:
“(It’s) indicative of a vast number of Black vets that have been locked out of not only just the GI Bill or access to health care at the VA, but specifically disability benefits because I think most people don’t quite understand how benefit obstruction works because most people don’t understand the bureaucracy of the VA or just the different mechanisms that obstruction can happen in. So you obviously have just blanket racism that can occur in the military and has occurred historically,” Brookshire said.
The most recent Minority Veterans Report from the Department of Veteran Affairs is from 2014. Which was almost a decade ago. Does anyone see the issue with that? And in its annual reports do not provide information on benefits by race or ethnicity per the story from The Cullman Times.
At the Root, we hope the investigation can get us to the point where Black veterans will always get what’s due, allowing them to live as heathy and long as their white military brothers and sisters.