A class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Iraq War veterans against the US Department of Veterans Affairs. A copy of the lawsuit complaint may be seen at http://www.mofo.com/docs/pdf/PTSD070723.pdf
Along with a plethora of abuses alleged in that lawsuit, it is additionally alleged (as previously touched upon in this forum, when I noted that this is a longstanding action dating back to at least the early 1980s) that the VA has conspired with the Pentagon to falsely categorize veterans as suffering from preexisting personality disorders, as a way of denying them their veteran benefits.
According to the lawsuit, the Veterans Administration has a backlog of between 400,000 and 600,000 claims. It states that it takes 177 days to process an initial claim, and 657 days to process an appeal, and some benefit claims take up to ten years to decide while injured veterans suffer and, sometimes, die awaiting necessary care. The suit additionally compares this timeline to healthcare claims made in the private sector, which take on average less than 70 days to decide.
Additionally, according to the lawsuit, senior VA officials were given $3.8 million in bonuses during 2005, the same year in which the VA spent $1 billion over budget while timely and appropriate treatment of injured veterans continued to decline.
Most recently, there have been a rash of suicides by Iraq War veterans, which were attributed to the agency’s failure to provide sufficient and appropriate mental health care to war veterans.
The law firm representing the veterans, Morrison and Foerster, stated that the lawsuit does not seek to make a statement about the war, but instead is intended to force action on veterans’ benefit issues.
Recently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a sharply worded decision regarding the failure of the VA to pay retroactive benefits to Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and suffered from a form of leukemia, “The performance of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has contributed substantially to our sense of national shame.”
According to the newest complaint, which seeks a court order directing the Veterans Administration to make drastic changes in order to properly and timely treat injured and ill veterans, “Unless systemic and drastic measures are instituted immediately, the costs to these veterans, their families and our nation will be incalculable, including broken families, a new generation of unemployed and homeless veterans, increases in drug abuse and alcoholism, and crushing burdens on the health care delivery system.”