Our office has recently achieved service-connection for multiple veterans based on personal assault and other forms of harassment caused by race-based enmity. Fortunately for the veterans, as they had been fighting the VA sometimes for decades to demonstrate the effect of race and country-of-origin discrimination, they were awarded significant back benefits as part of their awards.
Two types of race-based claims are noteworthy, especially for veterans who served in the 1970’s, 1980’s or 1990’s.
First, personal assaults, attacks and beatings based on race, country-of-origin, or ethnicity have been historically tolerated and un-reported at certain military bases. Depending on the attitudes of superiors, minority enlistees often had no way of safely reporting such attacks, and sometimes would place their own personnel status at risk by merely reporting if superiors were known to ignore such attacks. Where does that leave Veterans suffering from mental health or physical disabilities years or even decades after severe attacks or beatings?
There are multiple avenues to attempt to demonstrate that the events occurred; however, one simple method is oftentimes surprisingly effective. Even if an event was not reported as an attack or beating, service medical records likely exist that document the injuries suffered during serious attacks. Thus, a veteran could submit a lay statement to the VA describing the particulars of the attack and the racial motivations; and such events can be confirmed by service medical records where the veteran sought treatment directly following the incident. Again, simply because the incident doesn’t refer to a beating or fight, the injuries and symptoms themselves can serve to corroborate the attack even where decades in the past.
The second type of race-based claim–harassment by superiors or peers, race-based demotions, discharges or punishment—can sometimes establish entitlement to benefits for mental health disabilities in later years. Depending on the attitudes of superiors, minority enlistees would oftentimes simply do their best to withstand the treatment to serve their term until discharge, or alternatively accept discharges of whatever nature simply to be removed from the military environment. Again, in decades past there may have been no avenues to report such harassment, and there may have been the belief that reporting would not have been any use. However, over the past few years, the VA has begun acknowledging and service-connecting mental health problems stemming from harassment by superiors, race based demotions, duty-assignments, and the like.
If you need to appeal a claim denial, call (504) 235 4075 to speak to an attorney today.