Legislation would direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study disparities in access to VA benefits associated with race and ethnicity
Study could lead to additional Congressional action to ensure veterans of color have equal access to benefits earned through service
Senator Warnock: “I’m proud to introduce this legislation so Congress can fully understand the VA’s standard of care, and we can identify and address the systemic challenges that veterans of color may face”
ICYMI—Senator Warnock: “[W]e have to do the best we can for the folks who have spent time defending us and our way of life as American people” – MORE HERE from Savannah’s WTOC
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) recently introduced new legislation to address disparities in access to vital Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits experienced by veterans of color. The bill, introduced March 25, would provide additional insight on the scope of these disparities 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.
“Racial inequalities in health care access are well-documented, and we’ve all seen how the COVID-19 pandemic has further illuminated and exacerbated these disparities,” said Senator Warnock. “To that end, given the VA is one of our nation’s largest health care providers, I’m proud to introduce this legislation so Congress can fully understand the VA’s standard of care, and we can identify and address the systemic challenges that veterans of color may face.”
“We must ensure that all of those who bravely served our nation are able to access the benefits they earned,” Senator Warnock added.
Many non-white 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 legislation 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.
Read full bill text HERE.