The Veteran Health Administration (VHA) has been arduously working on encouraging mask-wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid transmission. As per their website, the VA “has implemented an aggressive public health response to protect and care for Veterans, their families, health care providers, and staff in the face of this emerging health risk.”
However, the VA efforts have been met with a bigger challenge, the Trump Administration’s active suppression of the VA’s mask-wearing guidance for veterans. Masks are a critical tool for veterans and are required to be worn by all patients receiving care inside the VA. As reporter Jasper Craven recently wrote on this breaking news story, “A tragic illustration of these views comes in the story of Richard Rose III, an Ohio Army veteran who died from COVID-19 in late July after going viral online for refusing to wear a mask.”
The president’s massive disdain for the COVID Pandemic has left us with almost 200,000 American deaths and as of today with over 55,000 veterans with COVID and over 3,100 veteran deaths according to the Department of Veterans Affairs latest report.
The challenges presented by the COVID19 pandemic have exacerbated the already existing challenges our veterans face, such as triggered PTSD symptoms such as stress, anxiety and depression.
A large part of the VA’s efforts include creating guidelines for mask-wearing, these guidance documents were drafted not only to keep veterans safe but also to ensure that they don’t stop going to their local VA medical facilities for care due to discomfort around masks. Yet, the White House slow-walked approval of the guidelines for weeks despite support from all clinical leaders inside the VHA. The VA pro-mask guidance documents were rescinded mid-August.
The President’s choice to not wear a mask and beliefs about this pandemic should not interfere with measures taken to protect our veterans’ health. Masks are crucial to protect veterans’ health and the guidance documents should be reinstated.
Team Common Defense