Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario recently interviewed me about our position in the current Veterans For Common Sense cert. request to the Supreme Court.
In “We’re quick to send them off to war, but slow to help,” Rosario captured my sentiment on the matter and the sentiment of most common sense veterans. I’ll provide a summary below and links to related court lawsuits.
For the past 5 years, Veterans United for Truth and Veterans For Common Sense have been embroiled in a class action lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Goal of the Class Action
The goal. We are pursuing the lawsuit because we are tired of waiting for Congress or the President to take decisive action against the VA. For years, we have been suffering prolonged delays and denials of property in the form of our disability benefits and related treatment.
We believe this is a denial of our constitutional right to due process. Our goal is to convince the court that it should force the VA to follow the laws stipulating how it should provide services or to make new ones for that purpose.
Brief Lawsuit Background
Rosario summarized well the onset of the case:
The initial suit, filed in 2007 in California where Veterans United for Truth is located, alleged that the backlog and the VA’s failure to adequately process mental health care and traumatic brain injury claims violated the due process rights of veterans. A federal district judge rejected the claims after a bench trial on the grounds that the federal court lacks jurisdiction to resolve how treatment is provided or review the causes for the delays.
In May 2012, the 9th Circuit reversed our previous win (2-1 victory at Court of Appeals) against the VA. In the 10-1 reversal, that most recent court said:
“As much as we may wish for expeditious improvement in the way the VA handles mental health care and service-related disability compensation, we cannot exceed our jurisdiction to accomplish it,” the court wrote. “There can be no doubt that securing exemplary care for our nation’s veterans is a moral imperative. But Congress and the president are in far better position ‘to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan’ ” — a quote from Abraham Lincoln.
What should veterans do?
For me, looking at issues like this, I believe veterans are tired of the rhetoric. It is clear politicians do not represent the interests of veterans beyond what is necessary to get re-elected. Nonetheless, we lost the Veterans Jobs Corps Act. Other veteran legislation has been left on the table for after the election.
Well, it’s an election year. I say we vote for real political change regardless of political party. I for one am no longer voting with any fear of “throwing away” my vote, and I certainly won’t vote for someone merely because they are a Democrat or a Republican.
Here are links to our other lawsuits and the current cert request to the Supreme Court.