Senator Reverend Warnock’s legislation was signed into law by President Biden earlier today during a ceremony at the White House
Legislation will direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study disparities in access to VA benefits associated with race and ethnicity
Study promotes need for additional Congressional action to all veterans have equal access to benefits earned through service
Senator Reverend Warnock: “This law pushes us one step closer to fully understanding the VA’s standard of care so we can identify and address the systemic challenges facing some of our veterans, and ensure that all our veterans are receiving the equal and just care they earned in courageous service to our country”
More from Atlanta’s Fox 5: Veterans of color struggle to get equal access to benefits
ICYMI: The son of a veteran, Senator Reverend Warnock has worked diligently in Washington to strengthen federal resources for Georgia’s active servicemembers, their families and veterans
Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) attended a ceremony at the White House where his legislation was signed into law to address disparities experienced by some veterans of color in accessing vital Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits. Senator Warnock’s bill, now law, will provide additional insight on the scope of disparities facing veterans of color by requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study if disparities associated with race and ethnicity exist, as well as to what extent, regarding: access to VA compensation benefits; disability ratings, with a focus on pain assessment; and rejections of Fully Developed Claims that help veterans work in partnership with the VA to identify missing documentation. The bill, which passed the Senate over the summer with bipartisan support, was also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ben Lujan (D-NM). The House companion was introduced by Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
“As a voice for Georgia in the U.S. Senate, I’m committed to making sure Washington is keeping its promise to our veterans. Given the VA is one of our nation’s largest health care providers, I’m proud my legislation to study disparities in care at the VA passed Congress with bipartisan support and has now been made law,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “This law pushes us one step closer to fully understanding the VA’s standard of care so we can identify and address the systemic challenges facing some of our veterans, and ensure that all our veterans are receiving the equal and just care they earned in courageous service to our country.”
Many veterans call Georgia home, and veterans of color are particularly vulnerable to disparities in access to VA benefits and delivery of VA services: according to the Black Veterans Project, “Black veterans face higher rates of homelessness, unemployment and incarceration and are twice as likely to live in poverty,” and “nearly half of all Black veterans do not access the full breadth of their VA benefits” to health care and other VA programs. Senator Warnock’s law seeks to further verify and understand the extent of disparities in the VA’s delivery of veterans’ benefits, so that Congress can take additional action to address gaps in benefits experienced by veterans of color, and ensure the federal government is upholding its commitment to all those who sacrificed to defend the freedoms of Georgians and Americans.
The new law follows Senator Warnock’s work to improve the safety and livelihoods of Georgia’s veterans. Recently, Senator Warnock: introduced legislation to improve standards of care in veterans homes; led calls to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to increase mental health outreach to veterans during the Afghanistan withdrawal; and led a bicameral call to strengthen veteran’s health care services at the Atlanta VA which serves more than 126,000 veterans across metro Atlanta and North Georgia. Additionally, he secured grants for Georgia’s two state veteran homes.
Read full bill text HERE.