Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and Veterans of Modern Warfare (VMW) have registered a lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The claim, which was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks to end the unconscionable delays experienced by veterans when applying for disability benefits.
The suit seeks 90-day decisions on initial petitions for disability benefits, and an 180-day period to settle appeals. If the VA cannot meet these criteria, the VVA and VMW are claiming for equitable relief in the form of monetary payments, which will grant veterans with a lifeline of assistance when it is most needed to allow reintegration into society.
In a letter delivered to Secretary Shinseki, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and Veterans of Modern Warfare (VMW) raised concern about a growing epidemic among America’s veteran community. More than 600,000 men and women, who served this nation honorably, often with great personal sacrifice, have been forced to endure excessive delays in receiving the disability benefits they have earned due to a service-connected disability.
“Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another, is the motto we live by at the VVA. We continue to press our case in the Court and Congress because our members, and all of America’s veterans, aren’t getting the support they need from the VA,” said John Rowan, National President, Vietnam Veterans of America. “America’s veterans deserve more. Our guys are hurting and need some help. We are asking the Court to deliver a remedy that expedites compensation claims for the brave men and women who have defended and served.”
“The need for disability benefits is particularly acute for our most recent veterans, the men, and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Donald Overton, Executive Director, Veterans of Modern Warfare. “The VA’s prompt assistance is essential in enabling these service members to transition successfully to civilian during a recessionary economy with record unemployment rates. Any delays in the delivery of these benefits can cause serious and irreparable harm to the veteran, their families and ultimately their communities.”
“The VA is arguing that it can delay claims in violation of the law and veterans still have no recourse outside of the VA’s system, even though both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit have said the VA should not be immune if it violates veterans’ rights,” said Robert Cattanach, Partner, Dorsey & Whitney. “While we obviously would have preferred that the Judge grant an immediate injunction to stop the damage being done to our veterans, we’re looking forward to our full day in court on behalf of America’s veterans. Congress may have applied a Band-Aid last session, but that should not give the VA a free pass.”