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Kaitlynne Hetrick | May 22, 2020

#AdvocacyUpdate: House VA Committee Testimony, IAVA’s #GoSilent Campaign, and more!

This week, IAVA’s Kaitlynne Hetrick participated in an online hearing by the House VA Health Subcommittee in collaboration with the Women Veterans Task Force – both chaired by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA). The event focused on the mental health of women veterans and the effect COVID-19 could be having. In Kaitlynne’s first Congressional testimony, she highlighted IAVA’s policy priorities on the topic. Representatives from the VA, VFW, PVA, Military Women’s Coalition, DAV, WWP, and George Mason University Department of Global and Community Health also shared their views. IAVA has been one of the top VSOs leading the charge to address gaps in care for women veterans. Hearings and forums like these give us the chance to speak on behalf of our members and bring current issues facing the post-9/11 veteran generation to light. You can read Kaitlynne’s full statement HERE and watch the full forum HERE

Secretary Wilkie once again provided his weekly update to IAVA CEO Jeremy Butler and Tom Porter on May 20.  Facing continued media questions about his Department’s use of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat veterans suffering from COVID-19, Wilkie said he wanted to knock down  the “nonsense in the media” and reiterated statements that it was not a VA study – that outside researchers took the VA data to do the study.  He again said the veterans who received the doses were near death. He passed on new information, saying that National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthonly Fauci is doing clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine “and we are part of his study.” Also new is that Wilkie said that the drug Remdesevir is also being used for COVID-19 treatment, without expanding. IAVA has asked for clarification on how frequently it is being prescribed and how successful it has been as a treatment option.

Addressing the COVID-19 hotspots in some state-run veterans homes, Wilkie reiterated his recent claims that the VA is precluded from operating, managing, or controlling veterans homes. He did not mention that the VA funds the homes and can withhold the funding if the homes do not meet VA standards,

He also underscored the thousands of new VA employees who have been hired through a reformed hiring process and that he will be asking Congress for much of those hiring provisions to be made permanent.

#GoSilent for Memorial Day 

Memorial Day is right around the corner and, while it will be much different this year than what we have experienced in the past, there are still many opportunities to honor our fallen servicemembers.  VA typically holds public wreath-laying ceremonies at the national cemeteries on Memorial Day. Due to COVID-19, VA has opted to close the ceremonies to the public but allow those that want to participate to view them virtually. You can find more information about the live-stream ceremonies HERE

IAVA would also like to ask you to join us and #GoSilent this Memorial Day at 3:00 PM local time to Honor the Fallen. To mark this Memorial Day, IAVA staff members will lay a wreath before local monuments, and later pause for a moment of silence at 3:00 PM local, rather than lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns as we have done in previous years. THat ceremony is not happening this year. Please gather your friends and family and pause with us for a national moment of silence to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

QRF

We know that this time can be stressful and IAVA’s Quick Reaction Force (QRF) is here to help! This program provides confidential 24/7 peer-to-peer support, comprehensive care management, and resource connections. To get connected to a Veteran Care Manager for immediate help anytime, day or night, please call 1-855-91RAPID or fill out our online form here. If you are a veteran or a veteran family member facing challenges or have questions, QRF can help by providing 24/7 peer support and providing connections to quality resources so you can get back on your feet and meet your goals.

If you are currently experiencing a crisis please contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1.800.273.8255, and press 1. Alternatively, use the Crisis Text Line by texting “RISING” to 741741.

Here are some helpful links if you or someone you know is seeking more information

The VA launched its new public health website HERE.
The DoD coronavirus response page is HERE.
If you are a TRICARE beneficiary, see guidance HERE.
Centers for Disease Control guidance HERE.

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