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Monday, May 16, 2011

US Court of Appeals comes down heavily on the Department of Veterans’ Administration especially in respect of psychiatric disabilities

In a judgement pronounced on 11 May 2011, the US Court of Appeals has held unconstitutional the sloppy treatment of American Veterans with service-connected ailments and the long cumbersome system for grant of disability benefits.

In a scathing 140 page judgement, the US Court of Appeals has ruled that the Veterans’ Administration (VA), akin to our Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare, suffers from ‘unchecked incompetence’. The Court concluded, "VA's unchecked incompetence has gone on long enough; no more veterans should be compelled to agonize or perish while the government fails to perform its obligations."

The Court also came down heavily on the system where the attributability documents are kept confidential and not shown to veterans unless the affected person applies under the ‘Freedom of Information Act’.

The Court also observed that the procedures followed by the system in grant of disability benefits were not neutral and weighed in favour of the government.

On the claim of sovereign immunity forwarded by the US government, the Court remarked that the British ‘King can do no wrong’ principle was not one which could be happily imported into the American system, especially for those who were dying for the nation.

The Court also judicially recognised, perhaps for the first time, that military personnel indeed had a higher rate of suicidal tendencies than the rest of the populace. The Court observed that in the absence of proper safeguards, veterans were 'suffering and dying, heedlessly and needlessly.' It was also recorded in the order that the appeals process initiated by the VA amounted to depriving disabled veterans of their property.

The Court concluded that the US Constitution conferred upon former service-members and their surviving dependants a right to effective care and just and timely adjudication of their service-connected death and disability benefits and that these Constitutional rights were being violated by the VA.

Interestingly, the judgement was rendered by a majority of 2 – 1 with one judge dissenting with the majority view. The opening line of dissent runs as follows :

“The majority hijacks the Dept of VA’s mental health treatment and disability compensation programs and installs a district judge as a reluctant commandant-in-chief…”

The case was filed against the VA by Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth, both non-profit organisations working for the benefit of ex-servicemembers.


Harry said...


Looks like for the faujis, it's the same shameful story across the Globe. :-(

Never imagined it could happen even in US (of all the places) where servicemembers/veterans are held in highest esteem!


-Harry aka Original Harry

Anonymous said...

similer to our deptt of ESM in MOD !
well said !
It is not only the deptt of ESM, apathy prevails almost every where.
Inspite of repeated requests, my PDA (State Bank of India) has not revised & disbursed disability pension in terms of MOD letter dated 15-2-11 (PCDA-P Circular No. 456 dated 18-3-11)...
Orders for roundingoff/broadbanding of percentage of disability element of pension for pre 1-1-06 retired ESM are not issued..
No one even bothers to reply emails . Nothing appears to be moving on complaints on National portal for public grievances.
Fail to understand why people in authority do not help even veterans.

rgkadam said...

You will get your due only if the case is filed against deptt of ESM like it happened in USA and not cursing and sitting idle.