June 11, 2021

Chairman Takano Introduces Legislation to Study Racial Disparities in VA Benefits

Press Contact

Jenni Geurink | 202.819.4684

WASHINGTON, D.C —Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) introduced legislationrequiring an examination of racial disparities concerning veteran benefits. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock previously introduced companion legislation in the Senate in March. This bill calls on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to assess racial disparities regarding VA disability and other benefits programs based on demographic characteristics and requires the Secretary of VA to brief Congress and prepare a report. This new legislation builds on Chairman Takano’s Commission to Study the Stigmatization, Criminalization, and Ongoing Exclusion and Inequity for LGBTQ Servicemembers and Veterans Act.

Through this legislation, GAO would assess whether there are disparities associated with race and ethnicity with respect to:

  • VA compensation benefits;
  • VA disability evaluations; and
  • Rejections of claims for other VA benefits.

“No veteran should face barriers to the care or benefits they’ve earned,” said Chairman Takano. “To guarantee this access, we first have to look back and examine how veterans were denied benefits in the past. That’s why I’m introducing legislation to study racial disparities and the way they’ve impacted veterans’ benefits. To truly build equity for veterans and create a welcoming VA for all, we have to document and remediate unjust barriers to benefits and ensure we equitably disburse future benefits to all who have served. I’m glad I could join Senator Warnock in pushing for these critical studies.” 

“Racial inequalities in health care access are well-documented. The VA is one of our nation’s largest health care providers, and I’m glad to work with Chairman Takano to pass this critical legislation. This bill is critical to understanding the current VA’s standard of care, and helping to identify and address the systemic challenges that veterans of color may face. We have a duty to ensure that all veterans have access the benefits and care they earned,” Senator Warnock added.