Save Veterans From Slipping Through The Cracks: Restore Their Rights!
14,018 signatures toward our 30,000 Goal
Sponsor: The Veterans Site
The VA unlawfully denied hundreds of thousands of veterans mental health services.
We need to demand that the Veterans Health Administration remove any policy that denies a veteran their promised benefits without first investigating their case.
The VA has systematically denied care to more than 500,000 veterans with "Other Than Honorable" discharges since the early 1980s1. That includes service members who were raped by superiors and discharged in retaliation for reporting the attack2, and those who suffer from untreated mental health disorders3.
"Liberal consideration" policies have occasionally been applied to veterans whose discharges were a result of post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, or sexual assault4, but far more have seen their cases been dismissed without the required due diligence. Their applications were thrown away, and in many cases the inquiries were never even recorded5.
Veterans who never receive care from the VA are at a much higher risk of suicide6. The consequences of denying so many veterans service has left many suffering and alone, lost in the cracks of bureaucratic miscommunication.
The Senate approved the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act7, which requires service discharge review boards who approve or deny applications to consider testimony from friends and coworkers, medical records, and all other available evidence before making a decision4. It effectively makes "liberal consideration" the rule when determining veterans' eligibility for medical care, rather than the exception, prohibiting any bias on the basis of gender, race, sexuality, sexual harassment or other extenuating circumstances.
The problem is, the law isn't being followed at all VA offices. Miscommunication among VA staff continues to stand between veterans and the care they need. Moreover, the VA’s efforts to contact potentially eligible veterans resulted in thousands of notices being sent to addresses that had not been updated in decades8.
Join us in sending a message to Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, asking him to train current VA staff on the new law regarding veteran eligibility for VA benefits, extend medical care to the hundreds of thousands of veterans who may yet be suffering, and alert them to the change as soon as possible.
We can't allow those who served their country so bravely to fall through the cracks. Sign the petition and take a stand for our veterans.
- "Turned Away How VA Unlawfully Denies Health Care to Veterans with Bad Paper Discharges." Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, Veterans Legal Services, and Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr LLP on behalf of OUTVETS; 2020
- "Booted Lack of Recourse for Wrongfully Discharged US Military Rape Survivors." Human Rights Watch, May 1, 2016
- "Veterans may sue over discharges they say were result of untreated mental health problems." Lorelei Laird, ABA Journal; November 19, 2018
- "Bill Would Give Vets With 'Bad Paper' Discharges Better Appeal Options.” Patricia Kime, Military.com; June 17, 2019
- "VA unlawfully turned away vulnerable veterans for decades, study says, with 400,000 more at risk." Alex Horton, The Washington Post; March 5, 2020
- "2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report" Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, 2019
- "S.1790 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020." Sen. James M. Inhofe, Congress.gov; December 20, 2019
- "VA Struggles To Reach Other-Than-Honorable-Discharge Vets In Need Of Help." Steve Walsh, NPR; October 18, 2018
To The United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs:
For too long, many American veterans have been unjustly denied their rightful healthcare. Illegal policies upheld at various VA facilities throughout the United States have turned more than 500,000 away based on a discharge status they may not have deserved, with no consideration for their specific cases.
Veterans who never receive care from the VA are at a much higher risk of suicide than those who do. The consequences of denying so many veterans service has left many suffering and alone, lost in the cracks of bureaucratic miscommunication.
The VA is required to accept all applications, making a determination based on each specific case, rather than categorically denying them because of a ticked box. But this is not what is happening. Miscommunication among VA staff continues to stand between veterans and the care they need. Moreover, the VA's efforts to contact potentially eligible veterans resulted in thousands of notices being sent to addresses that had not been updated in decades.
We can't allow those who served their country so bravely to fall through the cracks. I am joining other Americans in demanding that you train VA staff on the laws regarding veteran eligibility and require them to consider all evidence available in each application, especially those involving OTH discharges, and perform the due diligence in contacting those veterans who have been turned away.
Our veterans are too important to be treated like this. I implore you to take action now.