Senator Warnock’s legislation passed the Senate by unanimous consent
Legislation would 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 ensure veterans of color have equal access to benefits earned through service
Senator Warnock: “This bill pushes us one step closer to fully understanding the VA’s standard of care so we can identify and address the systemic challenges facing our veterans of color”
ICYMI: Senator Warnock recently led a bicameral letter to VA Secretary to advocate for better care for Georgia’s veterans—MORE HERE
Washington, D.C. — A vocal champion for Georgia’s veterans, last week U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) passed legislation to address disparities in access to vital Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits experienced by veterans of color. The bill, which 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), would 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.
“Racial inequalities in health care access are well-documented, and we’ve all seen how this once-in-a-century pandemic has further illuminated and exacerbated these disparities,” said Senator Warnock. “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 has passed the Senate. This bill pushes us one step closer to fully understanding the VA’s standard of care so we can identify and address the systemic challenges facing our veterans of color.”
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.