Helping Vets In The Time Of COVID-19
Low-income veterans are suffering from the economic damage from COVID-19. Some of the challenges they face are particularly baffling, according to the head of a nonprofit which helps them. Because the pandemic has created shortages of different kinds of food and necessary items, people who live on a low fixed income find themselves making hard choices.
"Instead of buying the generic brand of something you had to buy a better variant," said Amy Palmer, CEO of Soldiers' Angels. "Or instead of buying a certain kind of meat you had to get a steak, and so some of those things really kind of strained their financial situation."
Soldiers' Angels is a nonprofit which supports veterans nationwide. It delivers food, hygiene kits and sometimes mementos to veterans. The organization has also given close to 200 homeless COVID-positive veterans transportation to quarantine shelters.
COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs reports that it has recorded more than 24,000 patients with COVID-19. Military Times has reported more than 1,500 deaths from the illness among this group. In addition, a study from the Cohen Veterans Network found that the economic damage caused by the disease was also causing an increase in suicide among veterans.
The organization has also started delivering supplies to medical personnel at VA centers, as COVID forces them to work intense shifts and isolates them from the outside world. And in Hampton Roads, Soldiers' Angles provided small items, like games and snacks, to military personnel who were deployed here as part of relief efforts.
"They couldn't leave their dorms, in the early stages, and so there were lots of things that they needed," Palmer added.
"In the days and weeks that followed the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, Soldiers’ Angels shifted its deployed, veteran, and caregiver support programs, as thousands of their volunteer 'angels' worked tirelessly –and virtually – to provide aid and comfort to the military-connected community," according to a statement by the organization.
Members of the public can volunteer to help veterans and their families virtually during the pandemic. Find more information here on the Soldiers' Angels website.