Clinic Seeks Records on VA Policing

May 13, 2021

UCLA School of Law’s Veterans Legal Clinic filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on May 10 on behalf of the National Association of Minority Veterans of America (NAMVETS).

The complaint asks for records from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that may shed light on VA police force interactions with disabled and minority veterans throughout VA medical facilities. Specifically, it aims to compel the VA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to provide records, including data and statistics, that were part of a 2020 FOIA request that the clinic submitted with the assistance of its law student advocates.

“The information is essential at this moment where the nation is paying attention to the harms of policing upon historically marginalized communities,” says Sunita Patel, the clinic’s faculty director and a UCLA Law professor.

Horace Walker Jr., national director of the NAMVETS Veterans Claims Center and commander of the organization’s Columbus, Ohio, chapter, says, “Veterans injured from war and entitled to VA services should not face a policed health care environment. The records would assist us in understanding the scope of problems such as racial profiling at VA hospitals.”

Founded in 1969, NAMVETS has chapters across the country and is committed to improving the lives of minority veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

The Veterans Legal Clinic has represented NAMVETS since 2019 in a variety of matters, with students providing a range of legal assistance, including drafting templates for open records requests, producing know-your-rights videos, and creating public-education materials.

In the May 10 complaint, NAMVETS is represented by Patel, clinic staff attorney Courtney Bachman, and co-counsel Matthew Strugar.

To learn more about the VA police force, read the NAMVETS and Veterans Legal Clinic advisory.

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