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Lawsuit Alleges Systemic Discrimination at VA

Lawsuit Alleges Systemic Discrimination at VA

A lawsuit filed in November 2022 alleges systemic discrimination at VA. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Conley Monk, Jr., a 74-year-old former Marine.

Monk Jr. claims the Veterans Administration systematically discriminated against Black veterans in
disability compensation claims. The suit is based partly on a statistical analysis of VA records
from 2001 to 2020. A university statistician who performed this analysis concluded that VA
notably granted disability compensation to Black veterans at an average rate of 30.3% and
White veterans at an average rate of 37.1%.

According to the lawsuit, the VA improperly denied the Monk’s applications for education,
housing, and disability benefits nearly 50 years after he developed Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder in Vietnam. The denial came despite a psychiatrist’s diagnosis in 2011 that linked his
PTSD to service in Vietnam. Only after the military upgraded his discharge status did the VA
eventually grant him his benefits in 2015 and 2020. Still, the lawsuit says that he was never fully
compensated for the harm caused through the repeated denials.

Suffering From Discrimination At VA

“VA’s tortious conduct caused Mr. Monk to suffer periods of housing insecurity, financial
hardship, and difficulty accessing proper medical care. He suffered severe emotional harm
when he was forced to repeatedly relive the most traumatic moments of his life as part of his
applications and re-applications for disability compensation. And he suffered dignitary and
reputational harm as a result of VA’s discriminatory actions,” the suit reads.

The VA has recently released an Equity Action Plan. The plan details how it will lower or remove
barriers to access to benefits for historically underserved groups of veterans, such as minorities
and LGBTQI+ veterans. It specifically targets mental health benefits among Black veterans,
looking at historical disparities to make the proper adjustments moving forward.

Service-Related PTSD

Before around 1990, as far as most doctors were concerned, people with PTSD were
unpredictable and uncontrollable monsters. Modern science now proves that PTSD is both
predictable and controllable.

Common symptoms include:

  • Anger
  • Hypervigilance
  • Depression
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares

PTSD is not a processing disorder but a physical brain injury. Extreme stress changes brain
chemistry. The cerebral cortex shrinks, and the amygdala enlarges. The cerebral cortex controls
logical responses, and the amygdala controls emotional responses. The physical changes are
similar to that of a traumatic brain injury.

There are many treatment options available to vets who have PTSD. Still, many medications are
so strong that the side effects outweigh the medicine’s effectiveness. Therefore, many people
with PTSD opt to take milder medication and combine it with therapy.

Individual therapists help victims avoid PTSD triggers, like violent TV shows or news programs.
Group therapy reminds these victims that they are not alone. Group therapy often includes art
therapy or other activities that give patients a creative outlet.

Benefits Available

Depending on the severity of the symptoms, the VA usually rates PTSD disabilities between
10% and 100%. Partially-disabled veterans who cannot work may still be able to obtain full
disability under the Total Disability due to Individual Unemployability (TDIU) rating scheme.
Benefits in a successful VA disability claim usually include a monthly cash stipend and free
medical treatment at any VA medical facility.

Usually, the cash benefits are retroactive to the filing date. Sometimes, they are retroactive to
an even earlier date, such as the onset of disability. Also, many cases take several months, or even
longer, to work their way through the VA disability system. A 2017 law streamlined the claims
process. But the increasing number of veterans with disabilities means cases are still taking a
long time. As a result, many veterans could are entitled to substantial back pay.

Medical care benefits are often more important than cash benefits, especially in PTSD disability
cases. Veterans connect with doctors who truly understand the nature of service-related PTSD
so they get the best available help.

Role of Attorneys

A VA disability attorney helps veterans maximize their disability ratings. PTSD is an excellent
example of how easy it is to miss out on benefits. To this end, the VA uses the veteran’s symptoms to assign a disability rating. Frequently, veterans gloss over their symptoms, making the condition
seem less severe than it is. In fact, most veterans have a very strong “can do” attitude. As a result, they don’t want to let PTSD, or anything else, get in their way.

VA disability attorneys often interview friends, family members, and others close to the veteran.
These people are often better at evaluating the veteran’s symptoms than the veterans
themselves. They see the effects of PTSD daily. And so, if a claim is denied, an attorney may be able to uncover more evidence needed to strengthen the appeal.

Without a doubt, an attorney is a valuable partner in all phases of a disability claim. For a free consultation with an experienced veterans disability lawyer, contact Cameron Firm, PC at 800-861-7262, or for this purpose, fill out the contact box on our website. After all, we are here to represent veterans nationwide.

This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. Therefore, it does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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