HomeUS News updateBlack veterans were more often denied VA benefits for PTSD than white...

Black veterans were more often denied VA benefits for PTSD than white counterparts, newly surfaced study shows

A newly revealed 2017 Internal Veterans Affairs report reveals that black veterans were denied benefits more often for post-traumatic stress disorder than their white counterparts.

The analysis broke down claims data from fiscal years 2011 to 2016 and showed that black veterans seeking disability benefits for PTSD were denied 57% of the time, compared to 43% for white veterans. The report emerged as part of an open records lawsuit filed by an advocacy group for Black veterans.

Terrence Hayes, a spokesman for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said the agency did not immediately have current data on the racial breakdown of PTSD disability benefit awards and said the agency “is collecting data and will share it once it is fully compiled.” “

Hayes wrote in an email that the agency cannot comment on any ongoing litigation but that VA Secretary Dennis McDonough is committed to addressing racial disparities as it relates to VA benefits.

Hayes noted that earlier this month McDonough acknowledged the disparities and announced the creation of an equity team, telling reporters: “The first order of business of that team will be to look at disparities in grant rates to black veterans — with Same to all minority and historically underserved veterans – and eliminate them.

Richard Brookshire, a black veteran who served as a combat medic in Afghanistan, co-founded the Black Veterans Project in Baltimore, which filed a freedom of information request lawsuit. He says he is frustrated that the government aggressively recruits black soldiers from black neighborhoods but the VA is unable to share data on disparities. In an interview with NBC Washington, he said, “If they don’t know, it’s because they don’t want to know.”

Richard Brookshire co-founded the Black Veterans Project in Baltimore.
Richard Brookshire co-founded the Black Veterans Project in Baltimore.nbc news

Brookshire said the VA initially provided them with raw data from 2002 to 2020 that was analyzed by a team at Columbia University, and the data showed a disparity, but the VA shared its 2017 analysis until then. Didn’t until he filed a FOIA lawsuit.

The 2017 analysis is significant because research has shown that minority vets had higher rates of PTSD (5.8%) than non-minority veterans (5%). Black Vietnam veterans were found to have higher rates of PTSD because they were more likely to have been in combat than their white counterparts.

The disparities were highlighted in a series of reports by NBC News Now and NBC local stations entitled “American Vets: Benefits, Race and Inequality.”

‘I’ll wake up fighting’

Ronnie Forbes, a black veteran living in Livermore, California, was drafted into the Army in 1984 and sent to Korea, where he was stationed in the Demilitarized Zone. He says this is where he developed PTSD from living in a constant state of readiness. “I couldn’t sleep at night, hearing all kinds of talk and having anxiety attacks,” he told NBC Bay Area reporter Bigd Shaaban.

In 2015 he applied to the VA for a service connected disability claim for PTSD. The VA turned him down after nine months. With the help of advocacy groups, he appealed several times against the VA’s decision and received retroactive approval last month, seven years after his initial denial.

Forbes told Shaban that he believes racism played a role in his years-long search for PTSD benefits. “I dealt with it in the military and now outside the military,” he said. “As a veteran, I am dealing with similar issues through this appeals process.”

Conley Monk in Vietnam.
Conley Monk in Vietnam.Courtesy Conley Monk

Conley Monk Jr., 74, of Connecticut, served as a Marine in Vietnam and says he is haunted by a gruesome incident in which a fellow Marine drove over a Vietnamese man in front of him. He says he was unaware at the time that the incident and the violence in Vietnam had contributed to his PTSD. “Ever since I came back from Vietnam, I knew I had a problem, but I didn’t know what it was. I knew that every time someone laid a hand on me I would get angry, that I would react, And it will get me in trouble.

Monk says that after his service in Vietnam, he was transferred to Okinawa, where he had two altercations, due in part to a “constant state of fear and hypervigilance,” according to court documents.

He told NBC Connecticut reporter Kyle Jones in Hartford that he often slept poorly. “You know, my sisters, or brothers, anybody would lay a hand on me, I would wake up fighting. So I knew I had a problem. But I didn’t know the name of it.”

He says that after the brawl in Okinawa, he agreed to an “undesirable discharge” but did not understand that it could negatively affect his eligibility for VA benefits. The monks say it took 40 years to reverse his discharge.

Connelly Monk.
Connelly Monk.Courtesy Conley Monk

In early March, Secretary McDonough said the agency was “wrestling with disparities based on race in VA benefits decisions and military discharge status.”

Forbes tells Shaban that he is grateful the department is admitting they fell short. “I’m relieved that they’re owning up to what’s going on. It’s a relief to me.” They said. “Now we know what the problem is. Now let’s work on a solution.

This article was reported by Lucy Bustamante nbc philadelphia, on Kyle Jones and Catherine Loy NBC Connecticut, Tracy Wilkins and Rick Yarborough NBC Washington, Bigd Shaban and Michael Bott nbc bay area, Mark Mullen and Mike Dorfman NBC San Diego, Noreen O’Donnell for NBCU Local and Laura Strickler of the NBC News Investigative Unit.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Recent Comments