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Black Veterans More Likely to be Denied Health Benefits By the VA


Black veterans are more likely to be denied health benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs than white veterans are, according to new data. 

According to NBC News, the new report highlights the disparities in access to both the physical and mental health benefits that are given to veterans. To create the report, the data compiled by the Veterans Affairs, also known as the VA, stemmed from applications submitted by veterans between the span of 2017 and 2023.

According to the VA, only about 84.8% of Black veterans who applied for both physical and mental health benefits were actually given them. Meanwhile, almost 90% of white veterans who applied for these benefits were guaranteed and given the help they asked for.

Despite this larger disparity in getting access to them, Black veterans receive health benefits from the VA at higher rates because of higher rates of application submissions. According to the report, about one and half million Black veterans have applied for physical and mental health benefits, while less than one-third of the 15.5 million white veterans have done the same. 

Overall, nearly 37% of Black veterans and approximately 28% of white veterans get VA benefits. 

“Studies have shown that Black veterans are more likely to serve in combat, they are more likely to report PTSD and other health conditions, and they are more likely to use health care than their white counterparts,” said Josh Jacobs, the Under Secretary of VA, per NBC News. “So all of that may explain why there’s a higher percentage of Black veterans who apply for and receive disability benefits from VA.”

Previous research, however, has shown that, despite recording higher rates of PTSD and receiving disability benefits from VA at higher rates, Black veterans are denied help for PTSD at higher rates when compared to how many veterans apply for the benefits. 

According to the VA, BIPOC veterans, in general, record higher rates of PTSD with 5.8% reporting to the VA that they struggle with the mental health issue. Meanwhile, five percent of white veterans also reported that they struggled with PTSD.

Despite this higher rate, according to a recently discovered report from the VA first created in 2017, Black veterans who applied for mental health benefits to help with their PTSD were denied the help they needed 57% of the time. 

In comparison, white veterans with PTSD issues were denied only 43% of the time.

With the release of the new report, the VA recently announced an initiative to eliminate any disparities in the VA benefits that are handed out. 

With the help of the Agency Equity Team, the VA said they’d work towards making sure veterans from underserved communities will get equal access to both physical and mental health benefits.

“This new Agency Equity Team will help us deliver on that promise, making sure that we provide every Veteran with the world-class care and benefits they deserve — no matter their age, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, or sexual identity,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough per a statement. “The team’s first order of business will be identifying any disparities in VA health care and benefits and eliminating them.”

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