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Thursday, May 19, 2011

"We are presented here with the question of what happens when the political branches fail to act in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution. The Constitution affirms that the People have rights that are enforceable against the government. One such right is to be free from unjustified governmental deprivation of property "including the health care and benefits that our laws guarantee veterans upon completion of their service. Absent constitutionally sufficient procedural protections, the promise we make to veterans becomes worthless. When the government harms its veterans by the deprivations at issue here, they are entitled to turn to the courts for relief. Indeed, our Constitution established an independent Judiciary precisely for situations like this, in which a vulnerable group, that is being denied its rights by an unresponsive government, has nowhere else to turn. No more critical example exists than when the government fails to afford its injured or wounded veterans their constitutional rights. Wars, including wars of choice, have many costs. Affording our veterans their constitutional rights is a primary one.”

Judge Stephen Reinhardt, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, writing the majority opinion in Veterans for Common Sense v Shinseki, a case brought to challenge the quality of care being afforded veterans, specifically in the area of mental health. The opinion cited grim statistics showing that eighteen veterans commit suicide each day and one thousand attempt suicide each month due largely to untreated or undertreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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