WASHINGTON, DC (WAVY) — A group of local veterans suing the Department of Defense is growing.
They’re trying to get benefits they say they deserve — and on Friday, they added to their ranks.
The veterans are suing the United States Army, Navy, Air Force and Department of Veterans Affairs for $500 million.
They say they’ve been denied benefits for treatment of mental illness resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma, rape and other conditions.
“Our case absolutely takes on the unreasonable delay, the long period of time it takes for decisions to be made,” said Roy Perry-Bey, lead plaintiff in the case and an Army veteran from Hampton.
The veterans also say they can’t get access to the records relating to their denials based on less-than-honorable discharges.
They filed an amended complaint after adding to their strength of force. The two new plaintiffs include one Army veteran from Richmond, and another from Salem, Virginia, bringing their total to 19.
Perry-Bey says their case and its publicity are inspiring other vets to file similar claims.
“We believe that the coverage that has been accorded us here has opened the door for many cases to come forward now in federal court. It is because of the coverage that WAVY is doing that’s having a national and international impact,” he said.
Perry-Bey says that includes a case filed recently in federal court in Alexandria. Another case filed in 2018 is ongoing in Connecticut.
The veterans say just the fact that their case is making its way through federal court is sending a message to Veterans Affairs.
“You’re not above the law, the judiciary has independent review, and that is the impact that this is having to say to veterans everywhere,” Perry-Bay said.
Vivian Anderson is an advisor to the group and has worked with veterans and their benefit cases for many years.
“It’s just a disgrace in America to see our service men and women being treated so harshly, and it’s horrible,” Anderson said.
The group doesn’t know when they might get a court date for their case to be heard, but they did win a procedural victory late last year. A judge denied a motion by the military and DVA to dismiss their case.