WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 12, 2021) -- Black Veterans Project (BVP) and the National Veterans Council for Legal Redress (NVCLR) have filed multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the Veterans Benefits Administration, Veterans Health Administration, and Board of Veterans Appeals seeking information on racial disparities across the benefits system. The requests, organized over six-months -- follows reporting earlier this month by Jasper Craven in the NYTimes, see “Mind Boggling’ and ‘Deadly.’ This Is the Trump V.A.’s Racist Legacy.” The FOIA’s span data relating to the post-9/11 era ajudication of service-connected disability claims and appeals, benefit allocation and denial, internal reviews of racial bias and discrimination complaints made by employees and vetertans.
Since VA’s inception, Black veterans have been purposefully and systematically marginalized. Intentional obstruction alongside a culture of complicity with respect to racial discrimination within VA continues to lock Black veterans of all generations out of the benefits they have earned. The physical, psychological and economic toll of these harms have been vast and left largely unaddressed by VA leadership. Recent revelations of persistent and widespread racism across VA facilities leave little confidence in VA’s transparency around discrimination in benefit allocation.
The Biden-Harris Administration’s appointment of new leadership at VA leaves a window for an honest and proactive reckoning around the VA’s long-standing race problem.
“For decades, VA has been negligent in its responsibility to remedy how racial discrimination impacts the veterans it serves,” said Richard Brookshire, Co-Founder and Executive Director Black Veterans Project. “Black veterans can no longer rely on officials alone to shift VA’s legacy of racism. We are organizing ourselves to compel accountability and action.”
“Black women have long been forced to navigate the intersection of race and gender and often face double discrimination when seeking benefits and healthcare through VA,” said Daniele Anderson, Chief Strategist at the Black Veterans Project. “Black Veterans Project is committed to addressing the specific needs of Black women veterans whose disenfranchisement by VA requires targeted effort.”
“Our organization is proud to join this effort to attain information from the VA that will expose the systemic barriers facing Black veterans,” said NVCLR Executive Director Garry Monk. “The VA must be held accountable. Corrective actions are needed to eliminate the system’s current inequalities. There must be a workable program that serves Black Veterans fairly.”
“The extent of the disparities faced by Black veterans trying to access the benefits system has remained hidden by the VA for far too long,” said Ryan Liu, a law student intern in the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School. “We’re grateful to partner with Black Veterans Project on their important work of shining a light on these disparities and tackling them.”
Black Veterans Project (BVP) advances research and public education to address long-standing racial inequities across the military and veteran landscape. BVP is a subsidiary of the Black Veterans Empowerment Council (BVEC) -- a coalition of national, state and local veteran organizations seeking to shift long-standing racial, economic and social inequalities suffered by Black veterans in the United States.
The National Veterans Council for Legal Redress (NVCLR) is a Connecticut-based veterans service organization that engages in advocacy and public education to promote the respect and acceptance of all who served our country, and works to secure benefits for those veterans and their families.
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CONTACT: Richard Brookshire, email@example.com