No doubt about it: service members and their families are a breed apart. They are braver than most. But in the face of a global pandemic, even our nation’s best and bravest could use a little extra support.
Because not only are we staring down one of the most significant public health threats we’ve seen in more than a century, but we’re also struggling with an economy ravaged by nationwide lockdowns. In the face of massive job losses, increasing economic hardship, and the threat of a second surge of the virus, veterans and their families are increasingly in need.
But there are abundant resources available to protect the heroes who have devoted their lives to protecting us.
Help With Housing
Homelessness among veterans has long been one of our nation’s most heartbreaking realities. It’s estimated that more than 40,000 veterans are homeless on any given night in America, while more than a million more are considered to be at risk of homelessness.
But housing insecurity isn’t just a risk in and of itself. The loss of housing means the loss of the means for veterans to shelter against the pandemic. They’ll lose the ability to socially distance. They’ll have little or no access to clean water, no means to practice the meticulous hygiene that may well mean the difference between life and death at this time.
That’s why the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is working urgently to protect veterans at risk of homelessness. With $700 million allocated from the CARES Act to veterans’ housing support and an additional $400 directed to such initiatives from the VA itself, the department is marshaling all its powers to ensure that veterans and their families have safe and secure housing as we ride out this coronavirus crisis.
A Doctor in the House
In addition to promoting housing security for veterans and their families, the federal government is strongly supporting the use of telemedicine for preventive and routine medical care. This includes specialty services, such as vision care.
The VA is increasingly turning to telehealth to ensure veterans receive the consistent, high-quality care they need without risking exposure to the virus. This includes access to mental healthcare. This kind of connection can be essential for those who are facing long weeks of social isolation, especially if they are also struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Military Grants and Loans
In addition to housing support and access to telehealth, veterans are also eligible for grants, low-interest and no-interest loans, and other sources of financial support. These can be an ideal option, even for those who may have less than ideal credit.
Not only that, but services such as the Red Cross, AARP, and the Wounded Warrior Project can help connect veterans and their with local, state, and federal resources to help meet their financial needs. For those needing help in paying monthly utilities or buying food, local veterans organizations can quickly connect veterans with the funds they need to make it through the month.
Nothing Like Family
As important as federal and local resources may be, there’s probably no greater support than family. When we’re all striving to make it through this extraordinary time, family can be a tremendous source of strength and comfort.
It may be, for example, that the safest way for our veterans to quarantine is with loved ones. This, of course, can require some adjustment, especially for those who are used to living alone.
Family members who are welcoming veterans into their own homes, perhaps to remain through the holidays and the passing of the second surge if it comes, must be prepared. Even among family, veterans may still experience feelings of loneliness and anxiety. If they suffer from PTSD, their symptoms may persist or even temporarily worsen, no matter how hard loved ones try to make them feel welcome.
It is simply a matter of adjustment. It simply takes time. But there are few resources greater than the comfort of family. We’re all truly in this together, and there’s no one better to be “in it together with” than our nation’s finest!
The COVID-19 pandemic has swept across our world like a tidal wave. We’re all still just learning how to keep our heads above water. But veterans are at particular risk due to the impacts of the virus, both in terms of their health and regarding their financial security. Housing has long been a challenge for many veterans faced with reintegrating into civilian life.
But today, in the face of massive unemployment and nationwide lockdowns, the threat is even greater than perhaps ever before. Thankfully, our federal government, our communities, and our families are gathering their immense strength to provide the resources needed to keep our nation’s heroes safe, healthy and protected.