black veterans

If you have been following the Veterans Law Blog® facebook page for the last 2 weeks, you will have seen daily posts covering Black history, civil rights history, and the experiences of Black veterans in America.

“This doesn’t have anything to do with Veterans Law,” said one white veteran. “Why don’t you go back to writing about that?”

Eventually, I will.

But for the time being, there are some really important things the Veterans Law Blog® needs to do.

We have a problem with racism against Black veterans.

As white and Black alike took to the streets to protest police brutality against Black Americans, many businesses (even NASCAR and the NFL, surprisingly) have take steps to condemn or start to dismantle the systematic oppression of Black people.

In the veterans community, though, the silence has been deafening. None of the “Big 6” Veterans Service Organizations have said a word about the challenges and discrimination that Black veterans confront not just in their communities, but at the VA as well.

Some white dude at the Disabled American Veterans issued a tepid and tone-deaf condemnation of “civil unrest.”

Read the facebook feed of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and you will have no idea that our nation is coalescing on a broad and strong effort to wipe out racism, racist people, and racist systems.

The American Legion issued a statement on June 12, 2020. The statement was a milquetoast “tsk-tsk” about violations of equality under the law, without a single mention of the systematic oppression of Black veterans and Black communities.

No veterans law firms are talking about race or the issues that Black veterans face.

In fact, I could find only one law firm – the law firm of Attig | Curran | Steel – that took a pledge to condemn racism, and to condemn the systematic oppression of Black people.

attig curran steel veterans law firm

At the same time, I saw in the comments on the VLB Facebook page a shocking number of racist white veterans. Some were merely dismissive of the Black experience in America or the experiences of Black Veterans.  Some were just echoing the vile words of a white man who lives in a white house who makes them feel special because they are white. And a substantial number were rude, violent, and threatening in their language and their ideas.

In 2014, I wrote a piece condemning a NYT op-ed piece about racism in the veterans community. Seeing, these last two weeks, the sheer volume of white veterans who are the definition of racist, white supremacist, or just plain ignorant about civil rights, I deeply regret that article, and have removed it from this site.

I apologize to the author, Kathleen Belew, for my criticism. I was wrong, and you were right. There is a racism problem in the veterans community.

The systematic oppression of Black people is visited even upon our Black brothers and sister veterans – even those who shared a foxhole with us.

What to do about it though?

In a word, I don’t know. But I do know three things.

#1: Some of you are not going to like what is coming next.

Since some of you will not be happy about the direction the Veterans Law Blog® is taking, let’s be clear about one thing.

I am not worried about losing a following on social media.  I am not worried about losing subscriptions on this page. I’m not in this for the money or the fame, so threaten all the boycots and bad reviews you want – I will not be quiet until the last white man takes his knee off the neck of our Black brother and sister veterans

I have banned over 1,831 overtly racist and white supremacist veterans from the Veterans Law Blog® facebook page in the past 12 days.

Many of you will likely cancel your subscriptions to this blog because you just can’t acknowledge racism in the military and veterans community.

To those who unfollow the VLB on social media, or cancel your subscriptions, I say this.

I don’t care that you are leaving. I am happy to see you go. I will not sit down. I will not keep quiet. I will challenge Veterans to think beyond their current limitations.

If that is something you can’t hang with, please just go. I will give no quarter to racism or racists.

#2: The Veterans Law Blog® has always taking point on systemic change in the Veterans Advocacy Community.

In 2007, this blog was the first – and only – blog that detailed the law and procedure of VA disability compensation claims. Now, every law firm that is serious about representing veterans has a law blog on their website.  This blog’s catalog of educational material about VA claims and appeals is so substantial and extensive that even judges in our community read this blog or watch the videos on YouTube.

From 2007 – 2012, I taught thousands of veterans how to use the Freedom of Information Act to request copies of their C-files. So many of you used that process that the VA was overloaded with C-File requests. Though not the only factor, the VA had to accelerate their plans to digitize their VA claims record repositories to fulfill those requests more quickly. Today, attorneys can log into the VA’s database directly to see their clients’ claims and appeals.

When the Veterans Community needed change, the Veterans Law Blog® has always taken point.

But, since 2017, I have struggled to chart a course for the direction of the Veterans Law Blog®. I do not see myself writing about VA claims and appeals until I die, but at the same time, the Veterans Law Blog® has always been a passion project of mine. I am not ready to let it go, but I am ready for it to chart a new course.

In short, I believe that there is so much more to say and do in the veterans community, in the work of helping our brothers and sisters reintegrate into the civilian lives they placed on hold to serve the country.

#3: The Veterans Law Blog® has a massive platform.

The Veterans Law Blog® has a massive platform. Across all our vectors – Facebook, YouTube, Email, search engines, etc, – the Veterans Law Blog® reaches 1/4 million veterans every month. The Veterans Law Blog® is a massive megaphone – a massive platform.

Beyond just having a platform, the Veterans Law Blog® has connections. The VLB has relationships with state and county VSOs, veterans lawyers, accredited VA agents, individuals inside the VA, VA Central Office and the BVA, and the VLB has recently begun outreach to state and federal legislative offices on matters of importance to Veterans.

What to do, then, about the race problem in the Veterans community?

In the spirit of using that platform to “take point” on changing and improving the Black veterans’ experience, here is my first step.

It is time to elevate the volume of Black voices who talk about the experiences – individual and collective – of the Black veteran. It is time to elevate the volume of voices of Black veterans who never let us forget the history of oppression, abuse, humiliation and inhumanity  visited by whites on black veterans. It is time to elevate the voices of Black veterans. It is time to elevate the volume of voices of black veterans who show us how the VA promotes and perpetuates a culture that systematically oppresses Black veterans.

To elevate those voices, I intend to hire a Black writer, ideally a veteran, to write a biweekly column on the Veterans Law Blog® that reports, examines, comments and memorializes the experiences of Black veterans – individually and collectively.

This is a small step, and it is only the first step. There is so much more I can do, and so much more I will do, to work to eradicate the systemic and systematic oppression of Black veterans and Black communities.

Please use the form below if you are a writer who is interested in writing for the Veterans Law Blog® about the individual and collective experiences of Black veterans.

Because I believe it is past time for white mouths to close, so we can focus on listening to Black voices telling us of their experiences, I would like the writer to be Black.

Here are the details of what I would expect:

  • Biweekly article (750 – 2000 words) discussing the experiences of Black veterans of all generations.
  • The writer will have complete editorial control over their writing, will receive a “byline,” and will be paid for their writing.
  • Articles will be researched, with key sources linked.
  • Writer will curate content related to his or her blog column to share on the Veterans Law Blog® facebook page.

If you are interested, please fill out the application below.

Please spread this application to anyone you know who wants to speak up about the experiences of Black veterans.

 

 

 

Chris Attig, Veterans Law Blog®

  • Page 2

    Please answer the following questions - they are not mandatory, and it is not required. I just need a sense of what kind of training I would need to provide if I select you.
  • Page 3

    Please upload the following documents
  • Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: pdf, doc, docx.

     

    14 Comments

    1. Commander Wynn

      Chris. So you finally acknowledge the truth. You’ve been hearing about all the time. When a white veteran gets rated for a knee injury he gets 70% but when a Black veteran gets rated for the same injury its not unusual that he gets rated at 30%. When a Black veteran crosses the path of 3 white officers on the base they stop a make him salute but when they cross the path of a white enlisted veteran they just keep walking on by. Systemic racism. I read your blog from time to time but I’m going to subscribe to it now and offer my support the the revelation of truth and to witness how the wrongs will be righted.

      Reply
    2. Lee G.

      Hey, Chris, as I stated several years ago, you are the man! I am a black veteran, Air Force retired, 1971-2001. I appreciate that you are “talking the talk and walking the walk” on racism in the veteran’s community. My racism while in the Air Force and Federal Civil Service (totaling 41 years) was covert. How did I know? I was told by white and black veterans after the fact.

      I am very happy that God allowed me to discover your law blog in August 2012 which enabled me to get my obstructive sleep apnea, secondary to sinusitis and rhinitis service-connected. Because of you, I have reached out to hundreds of veterans and they have gotten compensated by the VA. I talk about you so much that some veterans think I am on your payroll. After reading your materials and listening to your videos for eight years I could tell that you are a straight shooter!

      Again, thank you very much for your concern about racism in the veteran’s community! Be safe and blessed!

      Lee G.

      Reply
    3. Angela Melancon

      Hi Chris,

      Thank you for the platform. Being a Black woman, I to experienced racism in the military. I think that in the year 2020 this is a topic that has been ignored all of my life and it definitely was never brought up while I was in the military.

      I enlisted in the USMC in 1975, did boot camp at Paris Island, SC. Upon graduation, I received my orders to Military Police School. While in school, close to graduation time, my Drill Sergeant pulled me aside and said something very profound to me. He told me, I was what was known as a triple threat. One, because I now was a Military Police person, Two, I was black; Three, I was a female. He told me I was going to my duty station with 3 strikes against me. He was right.

      When I landed at my duty station, my first day on the job I was told that if I saw three (3) black people standing together anywhere on that base, I was given a direct order to stop my vehicle, get out and order them to disperse. Me being somewhat naive, I immediately asked, what do I do if I see 3 white people standing together? They answer: “Nothing, their fine.”

      I was brought up believing the Bible where it says God created us in His image and as someone once told me, “God didn’t make no crap!” I can never consider myself less regardless of how my white counterparts treated me.

      I know with the Black/African American community and with a lot of these members who have responded, God is what got us through our experiences; He is who and what allows us to continue to hold our heads up and forgive those that wrong us.

      Thank you for your open-mindedness and for becoming part of a open dialogue. Not sure if we will have a solution to all of this in my life time, but I am definitely proud of our younger generations’ determination to see this through.

      Reply
      • Joan E Collier

        I am glad you shared and that Chris what God ordered yo us black veterans.

        Reply
    4. Floyd Florence

      Dear Chris,

      I AM a black veteran and subscription member of your site. I have most or all the information I need from your site and was considering closing my membership.
      However, after reading your email and blog post today on the very real racial prejudice
      against African American veterans (and non-veterans), I will be keeping my subscription
      active, in support of all you are doing regarding this unfortunate matter.

      Chris, you are a shining example of what a real man and human being are. I bless you
      and may God bless you during this journey and worthwhile endeavor!

      Reply
    5. Alex D

      Chris, thank you for doing this. It is critical for people to speak out and take action as you are doing. I look forward to the additional commentary. You might get permission to post some of the trial pieces. -Alex, just another white civilian who cares

      Reply
    6. Hosea Battles

      Thank you Chris! As a Black Veteran and retired officer, I stand with you!! I will do all I can to support and promote your site to all veterans, regardless of race!!

      I experienced racism in the service as Enlisted and as an Officer. I applaud your courage.

      You can count on me!!!

      Reply
    7. Jose avila delrosario

      I’m a Filipino, USAF Ret (1984-2004), and a Veteran. Racism in military were very much a live in 1984 and through out 2004. Promotion is an up hill battle to us non white, so, to survive, we, blacks or all service member of colors hold on to our faith in God to survive.

      I have no grudge to no one, racist, anti immigrant, or to those who just like to hate any body. I just pray to God, please forgive them all! As always, I will love my neighbors even my neighbors doesn’t love me!

      Reply
    8. Paul

      If we cancel our membership to the webpage, will you be issuing a refund? Seems like the focused has changed…..

      Reply
      • Chris Attig

        No.

        When a newspaper adds a new section, they don’t give refunds to people who don’t like the new section.

        Cancel your subscription, won’t hurt my feelings. But there will be no refunds.

        Sincerely,
        Chris

        Reply
    9. Albert E WILLIAMS

      I would like to hear about racism in the military itself,about veterans that experience racism while they were in the military like myself.

      Reply
    10. Liberty Naud

      Simply this: thank you.

      Reply

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