How you can help a veteran during the COVID-19 pandemic

They served on the front lines of major wars and international conflicts. Now, like the rest of the world, U.S. veterans are trying to get through the coronavirus pandemic.

Many veterans, though, often face a unique set of obstacles after their time in service. Some have difficulty building a career or readjusting to civilian life and they can also face physical and mental health challenges, as well as economic struggles, all of which can be worsened and compounded amid a global pandemic that is keeping millions of people inside their homes.

Here are some ways that you can help veterans in need.

Help connect veterans to jobs and financial aid

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the April unemployment rate was 14.7% for the current U.S. population, with more than 36 million people having filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic’s onset. For veterans specifically, the BLS noted there were more than 1 million out of work with an unemployment rate of 11.7%.

To help veterans facing financial or employment difficulties, AARP provides a list of helpful resources, including the AARP Job Board and the AARP Resume Advisor. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also offers transition assistance, skill-matching, free online classes through LinkedIn, and other job search services.

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For veterans who have VA-guaranteed home loans and are experiencing financially difficulties amid the pandemic, the CARES Act can provide support, including forbearance of up to 180 days with the possibility of extension and 60-day moratoriums on evictions/foreclosures.

Military Times delves into states that are offering their own specific financial programs for veterans, and AARP provides a list of service relief organizations that can help veterans facing financial difficulties.

Keep veterans informed and warn them of scams that could target them

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are constantly looking for the latest updates. Sadly, this has led to scams and myths perpetuating online. And since people are often in isolation from one another, they may find themselves the victim of a COVID-19 ruse.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides an up-to-date list of the latest coronavirus-related rumors, scams and schemes, such as people getting calls they could get financial help amid the pandemic, or that 5G cell phone technology is linked to the cause of the virus. FEMA carefully breaks down these rumors and myths, helping to keep the public accurately-informed about developments during the pandemic.

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For more financial-focused COVID-19 scams or rumors, resources from the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can help veterans to avoid falling prey to malicious schemes.

Provide them with food and essential items

Organizations like the Red Cross and The Salvation Army has been providing food and other essential items amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

While this particular initiative existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization Soldiers’ Angels sends out hygiene kits to certain veterans in need. You can visit the organization’s website to find out how to donate or how to potentially make a hygiene kit. If making a hygiene kit, please abide by COVID-19 safety and sanitary guidelines from the CDC.

Many veterans are of an older age and can be among the population that has a higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 health conditions that can lead to death. Because of this, it could help to explore options in which a veteran can safely receive groceries while limiting their potential exposure to COVID-19.

AARP also provides a helpful article on how older individuals can stay safe while grocery shopping amid the pandemic.

Guide a veteran through the telehealth process

While telehealth and telemedicine existed prior to the pandemic, their usefulness has widened in the onset of COVID-19. Telehealth provides individuals with an effective way to have appointments with health practitioners, reorder prescriptions, and maintain their overall well-being, all without leaving the comfort of their own home.

But just because telehealth is convenient doesn’t mean that everyone automatically knows how to do it. And veterans who take prescriptions and have regular appointments with physicians could face difficulties when using telehealth services.

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You can help a loved one who is a veteran by exploring what telehealth and telemedicine options exist to help them schedule appointments, reorder prescriptions and address other health care needs. If that veteran has government-sponsored or private health insurance, it can also be beneficial to see what telemedicine and telehealth services are being offered under their plan.

This video below also delves into the best practices when conducting a telehealth session.

Give a virtual hello

Stay-at-home orders and larger social distancing guidelines have still deemed it unsafe to be in close physical proximity with another person, but there are ways you can connect and maintain relationships with vets.

The VA recommends that veterans who are feeling anxious or overwhelmed amid the pandemic stay in touch with friends and family through means such as phone calls and social media communications.

For those friends and family, it could help to regularly check-in with a vet through a phone conversation, a video chat, or even messages exchanged via email or on other social platforms.