This issue of Human Rights investigates and explicates important legal and policy concerns affecting veterans of the U.S. armed services, with a particular emphasis on those veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Not all veterans are entitled to VA health care and compensation and currently there are critical obstacles to care for the 1.7 million service members who have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
U.S. deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan has proven the greatest test of statutory protections afforded under USERRA. The unambiguous results have demonstrated that USERRA is incapable of adequately providing the protections necessary to guard employment rights for the large numbers of veterans returning to civilian life.
Service members and veterans face a variety of special challenges that can make them vulnerable to financial predation. A great majority of service members are young, predication junior enlisted personnel who are often from economically challenged backgrounds, making them targets for controversial lenders such as “payday” loan companies.
American civilians are surprised to learn about the custody battles soldiers face on the home front. Often, soldiers falsely believe that the stay of proceeding provisions of SCRA will give them temporary, automatic protection from custody proceedings while they are on active duty.
As currently drawn, the Veterans’ Choice of Representation and Benefits Enhancement Act of 2006 allows veterans to hire attorneys only after their initial claims are denied by the VA, thus deterring attorneys from getting involved at the important fact-finding stages.
NCCU’s Veterans Law Clinic opened in 2007 and enables law students to become skilled in the veterans claims adjudication process.
Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are faced with many concerns including the VA’s program for treating veterans, disputes arising out of medical care or treatment, and the adjudication system that processes claims.
Like their male counterparts, female service members are experiencing the kinds of incidents in and around war zones that trigger PTSD. But for servicewomen, PTSD has also been a result of sexual harassment or worse by fellow soliders.
LGB veterans must satisfy all of the requirements he or she would otherwise have to meet to receive benefits, such veterans are often denied or disqualified from certain benefits as a result of their sexual orientation.
Human Rights recently interviewed Judge Nancy Gertner after she had been selected to receive the 2008 Thurgood Marshall Award of the ABA’s Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities.
After Vietnam, David Addlestone used funds he raised to lead a nationwide effort to train attorneys to represent veterans on their applications to military discharge review agencies for discharge upgrades. He has since dedicated his career to vindicating the rights of veterans.