As of March 26, the United States has surpassed other countries and now tops the world’s charts with the highest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Since China’s notification to the World Health Organization of “an unknown pneumonia” within its borders on December 31, 2019, the novel coronavirus has spread to more than 70 countries.
Early reports of the seriousness of the disease caused many to believe this pandemic was nothing but a media frenzy. However, skepticism quickly turned to fear as we watched the increasing death rate on the news. As we witness storefronts shut down and schools across our great nation close their doors for students; it is important to know that our Veteran community is taking the proper precautions. To date, the VA has reported 484 positive cases of COVID-19. The agency also reports that it is doing its best to treat and prevent further outbreaks.
Will COVID-19 affect my VA benefits?
Despite the national shutdown of many businesses, your VA benefits will not be affected. VA Disability and Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) will continue as normal.
Further, President Donald Trump signed a bill into law on March 21 to ensure that Veteran students will receive uninterrupted GI Bill payments during national emergencies. While many schools have shut their doors for the rest of the school year, thousands of Veteran students have made the switch to online classes.
Coronavirus Relief Bill
The Coronavirus Relief Bill, also known as The CARES Act, sets aside almost $20 Billion for the Department of Veteran Affairs. This money will be used to protect Veterans and provide the level of care needed to combat COVID-19.
Additionally, funds will go to the Veterans Health Administration to cover the costs of coronavirus treatment and testing for veterans at:
- VA medical centers
- Civilian hospitals
- Civilian urgent cares
If you, a family member, or fellow veteran is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 call your local VA medical center before going to see a doctor.
Are Veterans at risk of COVID-19 infections?
The coronavirus has infected people of all ages and walks of life. If you have underlying conditions you may have an increased risk of catching COVID-19. This strain of human coronavirus aggressively attacks the respiratory system. As a result, deployment-Related Lung Disease may put veterans that were exposed to occupational and environmental factors at a higher risk of death and severe complications.
However, Veterans with lung disease are not the only ones at risk. Other preexisting conditions that may increase veterans risk include:
- Hypertension/high blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Lung Disease
- History of Strokes
- Chronic Liver disease
What Veterans Can do to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19
Whether or not you have an increased chance of experiencing COVID-19’s most severe symptoms, it is the citizen’s duty of our great nation to flatten the curve. At this time, there is no vaccine to stop the spread of the virus.
Prevention is in our hands. Both the CDC and WHO are asking that everyone practice physical distancing, proper personal hygiene, and stay home from work if you are not feeling well.
What you can do to help:
- Wash your hands with soap and water, regularly, for at least 20 seconds. (About the same time to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.)
- Practice physical distancing by remaining 6 feet away from others at all times. This greatly reduces the risk of coming in contact with or spreading the virus.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Use hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol.
Above all else, stay home whenever possible. You put yourself and your loved ones at risk every time you leave your home. If you must go out, limit your outings for essential purposes, such as getting groceries or if your job requires you to report. Check local listings for delivery services available for veterans.
What is the VA doing to help?
The VA is taking aggressive measures to ensure the safety of veterans during this global health crisis. VA medical centers are equipped with tests and screening abilities. Any Veteran that is concerned or showing symptoms should not hesitate to call their VA medical center. Veterans also have the option to send a secured message to physicians through MyHealtheVet.
At this time, the VA is limiting the number of visitors to their medical centers—you never know who may be infected. To promote physical distancing in medical centers, the VA is also urging veterans to get their prescription medications delivered to them.
If you are feeling uncertain about being in public at this time. The VA is offering telecommunication appointments. These can be accessed either by telephone of video.
Our VLAP Promise
Pandemic or not, our mission at VLAP remains to assist Veterans and Family Members dealing with VA benefits or legal concerns. Should you, another Veteran or a Family Member need assistance we are still here to answer your questions, provide guidance and connect you with our trusted experts. Our team is committed to helping you resolve veteran-related or unexpected issues that may come up in these unprecedented times.