Racial discrimination by Veterans Affairs spans decades

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The case could determine if the federal government can be held liable for systemic prejudices that disadvantaged Black military veterans and their descendants, advocates say.

The U.S. government has discriminated against “countless”Black military veterans dating backdecades, rejecting service-connected disability claims disproportionately compared with White applicants, and blocking access to housing and education benefits that helped fuel the rise of America’s middle class after World War II, a lawsuit filed Monday claims.

The suit was brought by Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic on behalf of a Vietnam War veteran, Conley Monk Jr., whose applications for health care, home loans and education assistance were “repeatedly” turned away by the Department of Veterans Affairs,the court filing says. His advocates contend the case could help determine whether the federal government can be held liable for systemic prejudices that, over generations, have disadvantaged African Americans who served in the military and their families, potentially clearing a path for others to seek recompense.

“The negligence of VA leadership, and their failure to train, supervise, monitor, and instruct agency officials to take steps to identify and correct racial disparities, led to systematic benefits obstruction for Black veterans,” the complaint says. “VA leaders knew or should have known and negligently failed to redress.”

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