Yale Law University clinic sues Division of Veterans Affairs above racial discrimination

The clinic is representing Conley Monk Jr., a Black maritime and New Haven resident who was denied veterans’ rewards.

Sadie Bograd

1:15 am, Nov 30, 2022

Staff Reporter

Sadie Bograd, Contributing Photographer

When Elm City resident Conley Monk Jr., returned from the Vietnam War, he envisioned to acquire guidance from the Veterans’ Administration — now recognized as the Division of Veterans Affairs, or VA. Rather, he became a single of the countless numbers of Black veterans to be denied rewards by the VA.

Monk introduced that he is suing the VA for carelessness at a press convention at the Dixwell Local community Middle on Oct. 28. The push convention involved words and phrases by Monk’s lawful illustration —  The Veterans Legal Solutions Clinic at Yale Regulation School, or VLSC — Senator Richard Blumenthal Regulation ’73 and the nationwide nonprofit Black Veterans Challenge.

“Since our nation’s founding, our authorities has relied on Black Us citizens to earn its wars,” mentioned Richard Brookshire, the government director of the Black Veterans Job. “Yet for a long time, it has permitted racially discriminatory tactics to obstruct Black veterans from equally accessing veterans’ housing, schooling and healthcare benefits.”

Monk is seeking compensatory damages for the VA’s carelessness. He has separately submitted an administrative declare on behalf of his father, a Earth War II veteran who was also denied added benefits.

The lawsuit alleges that racial bias in the military services justice process designed Black company customers significantly less probable to acquire honorable discharges, which in flip affected their eligibility for VA added benefits.

In 2021, the VA furnished information of disability payment claims in reaction to Independence of Data Act requests from the National Veterans Council for Authorized Redress, which Monk co-started and directs and the Black Veterans Job. The records the VA disclosed expose that there are statistically substantial racial disparities in the outcomes of veterans’ reward claims.

Involving 2001 and 2020, for instance, the VA on average denied 29.5 % of Black veterans’ requests for incapacity compensation, compared to 24.2 percent of white veterans’ requests.

The lawsuit accuses the VA of carelessness, stating that though the VA knew or need to have recognized about these disparities, they did not deal with them. As evidence of this disparity’s prevalent recognition, it factors out that the Equal Employment Option Commission prevents companies from demanding applicants to have honorable discharges for the reason that of pervasive discrimination in the discharge program.

“For decades, there have been anecdotal experiences and common suspicion of racial discrimination in the VA added benefits systems,” said Adam Henderson Law ’23, an intern at the VLSC. “The VA has denied a great number of meritorious programs of Black veterans and thus deprived them and their families of the support that they are entitled to.”

Monk is a single these kinds of veteran. Following serving in Vietnam in 1969, Monk started to practical experience indicators of put up-traumatic pressure dysfunction. He gained an undesirable discharge, now acknowledged as a discharge “under other than honorable” ailments,” in 1970 after an altercation caused by his PTSD-induced hypervigilance.

When the VA conducted a Character of Discharge perseverance, they failed to take into consideration the instances encompassing Monk’s discharge and declared him ineligible for education and learning and housing gains, leaving Monk temporarily homeless. The VA also denied Monk disability positive aspects for PTSD, and later on for diabetic issues.

The division continuously declined to perform a new Character of Discharge dedication, even following Monk been given a formal PTSD diagnosis. It was not until 2015, right after an attraction in which Monk was represented by the VLSC, that Monk started to obtain disability compensation, and only in 2020 did the VA identify that Monk ought to have been qualified for benefits because his preliminary application for payment in 1971.

Henderson explained the two statements as proof of “the generational hurt that the VA has caused.”

The speakers expressed their hope that Conley’s lawsuit sets a precedent for other Black veterans to also seek out out payment.

“My lawsuit is also going to lead the charge for other veterans,” Monk said. “We are hoping and praying that we are profitable in our combat due to the fact it’s not only for me and my father, it is for countless numbers of other veterans that are undergoing the exact type of circumstance.”

The lawsuit also alleges that even right after Monk obtained some gains, they have been inadequate and did not tackle “the exceptional hurt Mr. Monk suffered owing to VA’s pattern of racial discrimination.”

Blumenthal mentioned that regardless of irrespective of whether the lawsuit is successful, it will contact attention to the VA’s tactics and inspire the section to reexamine the discharge and positive aspects process.

“At the quite the very least, the VA and the Department of Protection are going to have to seem at by themselves in the mirror and say, ‘What is the reason for these disparate results?’” Blumenthal said. “What we need to have to do is take a look at the full process: the significantly less than honorable discharge method, lousy paper discharge, standard discharge. These kinds of labels can stigmatize a veteran and stain his possibilities for success during everyday living, not just with the VA, but throughout expert and personalized lifestyle.”

Monk is suing beneath the Federal Tort Promises Act, which was enacted in 1946.


Sadie Bograd addresses Nonprofits and Social Products and services. Last 12 months, she covered Town Corridor. Originally from Kentucky, she is a sophomore in Davenport School majoring in City Experiments.

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