Black veterans were more often denied VA benefits for PTSD than white counterparts, newly surfaced study shows

Richard Brookshire co-founded the Black Veterans Project in Baltimore.

A newly surfaced 2017 internal Veterans Affairs report shows Black veterans were more often denied benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder than their white counterparts. 

The analysis crunched claims data from fiscal year 2011 through 2016 and showed that Black veterans seeking disability benefits for PTSD were denied 57% of the time, compared to 43% for white veterans. The report emerged as part of an open records lawsuit filed by an advocacy group for Black veterans.

Terrence Hayes, a spokesperson for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said the agency did not immediately have current data on a racial breakdown of PTSD disability benefits awards and said the agency “is gathering the data and will share it once fully compiled.”

Hayes wrote in an email that the agency could not comment on any ongoing litigation but that VA Secretary Denis McDonough is committed to addressing racial disparities as it relates to VA benefits.

Hayes noted that earlier this month McDonough acknowledged disparities and announced the creation of an Equity Team, telling reporters: “That team’s first order of business will be to look into disparities in grant rates to Black veterans — as well as all minority and historically underserved veterans — and eliminate them.”

Richard Brookshire, a Black veteran who served in Afghanistan as a combat medic, co-founded the Black Veterans Project in Baltimore, which filed the Freedom of Information request lawsuit. He says he’s frustrated that the government aggressively recruits Black soldiers from Black neighborhoods but that the VA is unable to share data on disparities. “If they don’t know, it’s because they don’t want to know,” he said in an interview with NBC Washington.

Richard Brookshire co-founded the Black Veterans Project in Baltimore.NBC News

Brookshire said the VA initially provided him with raw data from 2002 through 2020 that was analyzed by a team at Columbia University, and the data showed disparities, but the VA did not share its 2017 analysis until he filed the FOIA lawsuit.

The 2017 analysis is significant because research has shown that minority vets had higher rates (5.8%) of PTSD than nonminority veterans (5%). Black Vietnam veterans were found to have higher rates of PTSD, in part because they were more likely to be in combat than their white counterparts.

The disparities were highlighted in a series of reports by NBC News Now and NBC local stations in a series called “American Vets: …

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at NBC News Top Stories…