“A Gaping Chasm”: Lawsuit Calls Attention to Economic Discrimination Against Black Veterans

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Black military veterans have been denied disability claims and blocked from taking full advantage of service-connected benefits for decades by the U.S. government, part of a pattern of discrimination, a lawsuit filed last week alleges.The suit was filed on behalf of a Vietnam War veteran, Conley Monk Jr., (shown above) who sought health care benefits, home loans and access to education from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) but, the lawsuit alleges, was repeatedly turned away.Advocates contend that generations of Black veterans like Monk have been victimized by systemic discrimination that has disadvantaged them and their families, even as education and housing assistance to white veterans helped spark the growth of the middle class after World War II.The Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School is representing Monk in the lawsuit. For the past two years, attorneys and law students at the clinic have been working with the nonprofit Black Veterans Project to prove that Black veterans have for generations had unequal access to benefits after they leave military service – and to file lawsuits seeking recompense. A breakthrough came earlier this year, when, following a complaint filed in federal court by the Black Veterans Project and the National...

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