Date of Paper

5-2017

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Mary Nienow

Department/School

Master of Social Work

Abstract

The problem this project addresses is racial differences in veteran service connection disability, specifically for the African American Veteran community. Throughout history, African Americans have notably been underserved in the healthcare system. The literature also shows a huge disparity across races of veterans versus non-veterans when seeking mental health care. However, in some of the literature, there is conflicting research on whether non-white racial groups do in fact receive poorer quality care leading to poorer outcomes. The research question of interest is: What are the experiences of African American veterans in accessing disability resources? This research project was a qualitative study utilizing in-person interviews with five African American veterans who are currently receiving health care from the government and have a service connection disability. These respondents were chosen based on their race and ethnic background as well as their commonality of having service-connection disabilities. A content analysis was conducted on the data, where the researcher examined the data for its emerging themes. None of the participants had a disability rating below 70%, nor did anyone have a rating of 100%, and each participant was from the South. No veterans expressed concern with the VA Healthcare System or the care that they receive there. However, 4 of 5 veterans spoke of how they did not think the rating period was fair for various reasons. All veterans mentioned they felt their disability rating should be higher, and they do believe white veterans get a higher rating than black veterans. The implications for social work practice and policy as this research shows African American veterans are not receiving fair disability ratings which impacts their health and economic viability.

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