WILDWOOD, N.J. (CBS) — The coronavirus pandemic has hit every sector of the population and veterans are being hit particularly hard. The Department of Veterans Affairs is working overtime to prevent future infections and deaths.
Eyewitness News spoke exclusively to the VA about those efforts and efforts to prevent veteran suicide.
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs in Wildwood, New Jersey says only three veterans are being treated for coronavirus in its nursing homes, also known as the community living centers.
The VA is tracking 1,972 veterans with coronavirus across the department as of June 21.
However, since the start of the pandemic, more than 12,000 veterans have gotten sick, and nearly 1,500 have died.
But Secretary Robert Wilkie says without proper planning things could’ve been a lot worse.
“We’ve sent out over 50 million individual communications to veterans, to families, to caregivers telling them what they need to do, how to come to see us, how we can reach them if they don’t feel well and they responded magnificently,” Wilkie said.
Now the VA is working on the next battle.
The Trump administration recently unveiled its veterans’ suicide prevention roadmap, nicknamed “PREVENTS.” An average of 20 veterans die each day by suicide.
The majority of them are from the Vietnam era, the roadmap will focus on awareness campaigns and research.
“So by bringing the country together, by bringing government together and the research capabilities together of VA, we’re working with Stanford, Duke, NYU, we’re at the major medical centers in the country and we’re going to be using the Department of Energy’s supercomputer to put this the data together, to help us reach into communities we’ve never been in and to take the veterans off the streets, take them into our care to prevent this last tragic act and it’s long past due,” Wilkie said.
Also, a proposal was introduced in Congress that would establish a grant program to fund state and local groups that help veterans.