Black Veterans Have a Harder Time Accessing Benefits

Black Veterans Have a Harder Time Accessing Benefits

Approximately 2 million veterans of more than 18 million in total are Black, and they are one vulnerable group of people in our country. During the pandemic, food insecurity has been one of the main concerns impacting Black Veterans. 

In 2004, Lashena Boyer served on the USS Abraham Lincoln, a civilian aircraft carrier that helped tsunami refugees in Indonesia. Boyer served in the Navy for 10 years before leaving in 2011, but her love for simply helping people didn’t stop there. Boyer also volunteers for Black Vets for Social Justice (BVSJ), which offers job and educational benefits and medical and housing services to veterans. 

As part of the pilot program, BVSJ and its partners from New York State and New York City's Department of Veteran Services deliver fresh meals to local food banks and community-based organizations across the five boroughs.

Wendy McClinton, the president of BVSJ, said the organization gathered 100 bags of canned foods every two weeks before COVID-19 hit. More recently, they have been delivering 4,000 fresh meals each week to approximately 2,000 veterans and their families every week.

Shortly after he got out of the Marine Corps, George Wolfe became an electronics technician. As a result of a back injury, Wolfe lost both his job and his house, and after serving in the Philippines and some parts of Europe, Wolfe did not ever imagine that his life would be spent living in New York on the streets. 

"This is indispensable," Wolfe said. “Without it, we would not be able to eat a healthy meal.” 

Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said Black people have endured the worst of the pandemic, and veterans who are Black often find themselves struggling in many ways after their military service has ended.

“African American vets are received in medical settings with greater disbelief of symptoms,” Butler said. “Often Black veterans are underrated for disability claims, treated with lesser options and face struggles with getting mental health services, GI Bill education benefits and VA-backed home loans.”