OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Gentner Drummond and a bipartisan coalition of 40 state attorneys general are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to protect veterans’ rights by ruling in favor of James Rudisill in Rudisill v. McDonough.
The Supreme Court is expected to take up the case toward the end of the year.
“This case is pivotal to ensuring the rights of courageous and patriotic Americans who have served their country in the armed forces,” Drummond said. “Mr. Rudisill served our country with honor and should be entitled to receive the benefits he surely has earned. If the Supreme Court does not grant relief, then there will be negative consequences for hundreds of thousands of other veterans.”
A veteran of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rudisill used his Montgomery GI Bill benefits to successfully complete his undergraduate degree before returning to the U.S. Army as a commissioned officer. He served his country bravely and received one of the military’s highest accolades – the Bronze Star – for his service. Following his third tour, Rudisill was accepted into the Yale Divinity School, with a goal of returning to the armed forces yet again, this time as a chaplain.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) denied Rudisill his Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits even though veterans with multiple requisite periods of service, such as Rudisill, can earn up to 48 months of educational benefits.
The VA’s inexplicable decision was overturned by multiple courts, but the en banc U.S. Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit ultimately upheld the VA’s decision, robbing thousands of veterans of the GI benefits they earned while serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Drummond himself is a veteran, having flown 39 combat missions in the U.S. Air Force, including his lead role in the first combat mission of the Gulf War.
“I know the sacrifice these young men and women make,” Drummond said. “I know the sacrifice their families make. Supporting our troops as they pursue their educational goals is a fundamental part of positioning them for success in civilian life. I am proud to stand with a broad and bipartisan group of my fellow attorneys general as we seek to protect the rights of every veteran.”
In addition to Oklahoma, the brief by Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares was joined by: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.