What This Case Is About
Many veterans who have fought in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, as well as those who served in earlier conflicts, are not being given the disability compensation, medical services and care they need. A much higher percentage of these veterans suffer with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ("PTSD") than veterans of any previous war, due to the multiple tours many are serving, the unrelenting vigilance required by the circumstances, the greater prevalence of brain injuries caused by the types of weaponry in use, among other reasons. Despite this, the Department of Veterans' Affairs ("DVA") is failing to provide adequate and timely benefits and medical care. This federal lawsuit, on behalf of veterans with pending claims based upon PTSD, regardless of the conflict in which they served, is for declaratory and injunctive relief, based primarily on the due process clause of the Constitution. We will focus on the following issues:
- The widespread breakdown of the DVA's adjudication and health care systems for veterans experiencing PTSD. For example, the application process is too complicated; even veterans with "successful" claims are given ratings that are too low; veterans who are rated as disabled continue to be denied appropriate medical care and ongoing support;
- The prolonged administrative delays in processing PTSD claims, at both the regional office and appellate levels. Applications are often bounced up and down through a complicated appeals process. We estimate that the average time for a claim to go through the entire appeals process, from the Regional Office to a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court, is between twelve and fifteen years;
- A variety of statutory and regulatory impediments to a veteran's ability to collect PTSD compensation. These include the inability to obtain discovery, the absence of subpoena power for documents and witnesses, and the inability to hire a lawyer to help out at the regional office level, among other impediments; and
- A pattern and practice of internal DVA abuses and improper rules. These are difficult to detect or prove without discovery.
You are invited to familiarize yourselves with these issues by visiting our Resources, reading the pivotal Court-filed Documents in the case and reading relevant News Articles. We appreciate your interest.