Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Vets Sue VA

Right from the horse's mouth, so to speak:

Veterans' Civil Rights Case, first of its kind, includes Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Attorney General Gonzales as defendants; focuses on veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts; alleges "unconscionable delays" and other violations of veterans’ constitutional and civil rights

Morrison & Foerster estimates the class size as between 320,000 and 800,000 veterans, by multiplying the number of military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan (1.6 million) by the estimated percentage of PTSD amongst the returning troops (20% to 50%). The non-profit Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth are among the plaintiffs.

The complaint further alleges that federal government officials have improperly induced many soldiers suffering from PTSD to accept "personality disorder" discharges, precluding veterans from obtaining disability benefits or receiving ongoing medical treatment because the disorder is then classified as a pre-existing condition.

"More than 22,500 soldiers across the armed forces have been suspiciously diagnosed and discharged with 'personality disorder' in the last six years, condemning them to a lifetime of disability without any compensation or access to VA medical care," the complaint states.

The complaint summarizes: "Unless systemic and drastic measures are instituted immediately, the costs to these veterans, their families, and our nation will be incalculable, including broken families, a new generation of unemployed and homeless veterans, increases in drug abuse, increases in alcoholism, and crushing burdens on the health care delivery system and other social services in our communities."

The upshot is that the Vets have finally had to sue the VA to try to get them to do the right thing in a more timely and well-financed manner.

It's an old adage that you get more with "please" and a gun than just with "please". I hope this law firm has some big guns. Asking politely, talking to congressmen, all the other nice systemic bullshit hasn't worked.

I wonder how far the government will let this proceed. I hope to its logical conclusion, which is that we as a nation misused these Vets terribly and we owe it to them to take care of them. It's only right.

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