MEDIA ADVISORY: TRIAL TO BEGIN IN FEDERAL COURT CASE BY WOUNDED VETS AGAINST VA
1. Paul Sullivan, Veterans for Common Sense, (202) 491-6953
2. Robert M. Handy, Veterans United for Truth, (805) 455-5259
3. Gordon P. Erspamer, Attorney, Morrison & Foerster, (925) 295-3341
4. Sidney M. Wolinsky, Attorney, Disability Rights Advocates, (510) 665-8644
WHO: Before Senior Judge Samuel Conti, United States District Court, Northern District of California.
WHEN: Monday, April 21, 2008, at 9:00 a.m.
WHERE: Federal Courthouse, Courtroom #1, 17th Floor, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA
Senior Federal District Court Judge Samuel Conti has expeditiously set trial in this ground-breaking nationwide lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) challenging systemic problems in the VA’s health care and adjudication systems for disabled veterans. The trial, to begin on April 21, will include testimony from the heads of national veterans organizations, top VA officials and some of the leading experts in the country on the widespread failings of the VA system.
Tragically, the VA has been neglecting wounded veterans returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan who are in desperate need of ongoing care and support, including medical treatment and disability payments for living expenses. Among those suffering the most are returning veterans with mental disabilities such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Veteran suicides have reached an epidemic level, with over 120 veterans taking their own lives every week. This lawsuit is unprecedented in directly challenging the VA’s 600,000 case backlog in handling claims, appellate delays of five to ten years, the waiting lists that veterans face before receiving health care, and the inadequacy of VA care for PTSD.
PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can develop in a person who witnesses or is confronted with a traumatic event. PTSD is the most prevalent mental disorder arising from combat. The suit claims that numerous VA practices violate the constitutional and statutory rights of veterans by denying veterans safeguards in the VA benefits process and mandated medical care. The suit also calls for court orders requiring the VA to provide immediate medical and psychological help to returning troops and to screen them for risk of suicide.