IAVA CEO Applauds Senators Klobuchar, Rounds for Taking Action on Behalf of Nation’s Veterans Hardest Hit by Coronavirus Pandemic
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 23, 2020
New York, NY – Today Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), applauded U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) for their efforts to ensure at-risk veterans across the country receive the care they need amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The senators sent a bipartisan letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs requesting that the agency take additional measures to address the needs of veterans who have been exposed to burn pits, making them disproportionately susceptible to potentially life-threatening symptoms brought on by COVID-19.
“IAVA applauds Senator Klobuchar and Senator Rounds for putting politics aside and focusing on the needs of our nation’s veterans during this public health crisis. It is critical that our elected officials prioritize the health and safety of these brave men and women in uniform, particularly those who have been exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances.”
Veterans have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 361 of the more than 5,500 veterans in VA care who have tested positive for COVID-19 have died, resulting in a death rate that is nearly two points higher than the percentage of patients who die from the virus nationally. Specifically, the senators requested the VA communicate with veterans the resources that are available to them during the pandemic.
“IAVA has repeatedly called on VA to communicate clearly and often regarding the programs and resources available to veterans as they face serious health and economic challenges due to COVID-19. We urge Secretary Wilkie and other VA staff to respond to the senators’ request by taking immediate action to communicate with all veterans, but especially those affected by toxic exposures to ensure they are aware of the increased risk factors.”
The senators also requested the agency provide information on how they are expanding telehealth capabilities across all VA facilities to provide veterans, including those with respiratory issues brought on by burn pit exposure, with greater access to care, as well as what the VA is doing to provide all necessary medical and sanitation supplies to Vet Centers and other access points to promote the safety of staff and the veterans they serve.
IAVA is an active member of the Toxic Exposures in the American Military (TEAM) coalition that draws attention to the health impacts on servicemembers by burn pits and other toxicants and is working to provide benefits to those who have been exposed. In addition to our policy work, IAVA’s flagship program, the Quick Reaction Force (QRF), provides 24/7 confidential peer-to-peer support, comprehensive care management and resource connections for all veterans. The full scope of the program and ways to connect to QRF can be found here.
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“Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America…remains the most important organization representing the new generation of veterans.” – TIME Magazine
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is the premier veterans advocacy and support organization on the planet. Every day, we fight for veterans. Hard. We are the tip-of-the spear non-profit engine of impact that connects, unites and empowers over 400,000 veterans and allies nationwide. Founded by an Iraq veteran in 2004, IAVA is the non-partisan leader in advocacy, public awareness and 1-on-1 care management and peer support. We organize locally, and drive historic impacts nationally.
Learn more at iava.org.