This week, the Department of Veterans Affairs released a tragic milestone in the United States’ battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the VA’s COVID-19 Cumulative Cases tracker, the death toll of U.S. veterans has now reached more than 10,000 lives lost.
In comparison, this number is a larger loss than U.S. combat deaths during each of the respective wars: the current War in Afghanistan, the Iraq War and the American Revolutionary War.
The American Red Cross joins the nation in mourning the lives lost and recommits to our tireless endeavors to deliver our humanitarian mission to alleviate suffering for those in need
RED CROSS VETERAN SUPPORT UNWAVERING The mission of the American Red Cross was born on the battlefield through Clara Barton’s support of all soldiers during the Civil War. Today, the Red Cross remains committed to serving the U.S. military community at every step – from the time a service member takes the oath to navigating life as a veteran. Guided by our Congressional Charter, the Red Cross helps veterans and their families prepare for, manage and respond to the challenges of veteran life.
WHAT THE RED CROSS IS DOING Since March 2020, veteran’s needs have mounted as COVID-19 takes a toll on the physical and mental health of the veteran community. The Red Cross offers veteran support through critical community services, financial assistance, veteran’s hospitals, mental wellness workshops and providing a network for caregivers of injured veterans.
Through the Red Cross Hero Care Network, veterans have a free support system when facing a crisis. The Red Cross serves veterans and their family members each day, many of whom are experiencing a financial crisis. The Hero Care Network finds and provides the community resources and financial support they need to get them through. Last year, more than 134,000 critical community services were provided to veteran and military families.
In veteran’s hospitals across the country, Red Cross clinical volunteers, such as certified doctors and nurses, help overworked hospital staff in a support role with a goal of allowing staff more time for priority patients. These volunteers also help administer COVID-19 vaccinations to veteran patients in need. Non-medical volunteers run programs such as the face covering project, animal visitation programs, distributing care and comfort items and so much more. To date, volunteers have sewn more than 127,000 face coverings and distributed over 700,000 comfort kits to recovering veterans and military families.
The pandemic has taken a devastating toll on the mental wellness of veteran families as well. Many veterans, their families and caregivers are experiencing increased feelings of isolation and have been separated from their extended support network. The Red Cross Military and Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN) has been able to virtually support caregivers of injured veterans through the MVCN’s online communities. They offer resources, connection and training. Since the onset of the pandemic, this network has more than doubled in size. In addition, veterans have been participating in online Red Cross Resiliency workshops. These courses focus on providing coping tips for dealing with trauma, stress and anger. They are specifically aimed at helping military and veteran families experiencing tough times during COVID-19.