News & Politics

Federal Court Allows First-Ever Class-Action Suit Against VA

Federal Court Allows First-Ever Class-Action Suit Against VA
(Photo Credit: Kristoffer Tripplaar/ Sipa USA)

Things are about to get even worse for the long-beleaguered Dept. of Veterans Affairs, as a federal court has just given the green light to a class-action suit against the agency for the first time.

More from Military Times:

A federal court for the first time will allow a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs to move ahead, a move that legal experts said opens the doors for a host of similar cases against the bureaucracy.

The decision, which could affect thousands of veterans, came late last week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Last August, the same court for the first time ruled that class-action lawsuits would be allowed against VA in “appropriate cases,” but no such claims met court standards until now.

This case — Godsey v. Wilkie — sought relief for veterans facing waits of more than two months for the department to certify their disability benefits appeals claims.

Legislation was passed last year to greatly overhaul how the VA does things, but that is just being implemented now. VA officials are very forward-looking and optimistic about the agency’s future:

At VA, we are fortunate to have such a noble mission – caring for those who have served and sacrificed on our behalf. And we do it remarkably well.  A recent Dartmouth study found VA hospitals outperform the private sector in most health care markets throughout the country.

Congress and President Trump have made Veterans a top priority and taken significant steps to strengthen VA’s ability to deliver the quality care and timely service Veterans deserve.  Our record $200 billion budget along with major legislation such as the VA MISSION Act of 2018 (MISSION Act) make clear that it is not business as usual for VA.

Secretary Wilkie has made implementing the MISSION Act one of his top priorities.  This legislation contains more than 50 sections intended to strengthen and improve VA’s ability to deliver health care.

While the much-needed changes have been prioritized in a mostly bipartisan fashion, entrenched federal bureaucracies aren’t nimble organizations that can reorganize quickly.

And while the future may actually end up being better for the VA and our veterans, the agency will still be busy atoning for its past.