Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-2022

Abstract

The United States Government is struggling to fulfill commitments it has made to service members suffering from disabilities incurred during honorable service to the country. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation structure, job training programs, and methods of alternative dispute resolution is a patchwork resulting from decades of legislation creating a system where veterans often become locked in a complicated and often combative process to obtain benefits they have earned. Employers, advocacy groups, academics, and federal officials agree that there are systematic issues within the VA negatively impacting disabled veterans. These include a lack of patient-centered care, divergent and overlapping services provided by different organizations, administrative delays, and an adversarial relationship in dispute processes. This paper recommends enacting legislation integrating elements of disability care currently under the auspices of the VA into Medicare, devoting resources to increase the amount of longitudinal data collection studies performed, and streamline the VA’s claim appeals process by creating a secure online method of alternative dispute resolution. In researching disabled veterans’ law, academics note a deficiency in the amount of relevant contemporary scholarship.

The lack of scholarship in healthcare and employment law concerning disabled veterans presents a unique opportunity for further discussion and research. Contributions by those closest to the problem, (i.e.: who have served in the military, worked for the VA, and members of advocacy groups) are critical in creating a foundation upon which real world solutions may be found. This paper is written through the lens of lived experiences. As a former United States Marine, having served in Afghanistan, it is the result of direct experiences that I and my fellow service members have and are currently experiencing with the VA.

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