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The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc across the country, especially among those with chronic respiratory problems and compromised immune systems.
These include 9/11 first responders and veterans who were exposed to the toxic plumes that emanated from burn pits. Both groups constitute large parts of a population living with a higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19.
“We are taking a lot of caution,” said Will Thompson, a veteran from West Virginia, who had a double lung transplant in the past decade due to his exposure to burn pits in Mosul, Iraq.
“I have had, from my transplant doctors to my VA doctor to my primary care physician, have all called me and said, ‘Do not leave your house whatsoever,’ because, you know, for me, it’s a no-brainer. If I get it, I'm pretty much on the losing end of it, unless God intervenes.”
Thompson served two tours of duty and was exposed to burn pits, which were used at a majority of U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan to get rid of waste and garbage. The veteran said that he started experiencing problems while on his second
The Investigative Unit at Fox News has reported extensively on veterans made sick from their exposure to burn pits. Many soldiers, like Thompson, said the pits were a crude method of incineration in which every piece of waste was burned, including plastics, batteries, appliances, medicine, dead animals and even human waste. The items often were set ablaze with jet fuel as the accelerant and the pits burned more than 1,000 different chemical compounds day and night. Most service members breathed in toxic fumes with no protection.
Many veterans have developed myriad respiratory issues and other serious ailments believed to be a result of burn pit exposure. Many are immuno-compromised and face an increased vulnerability to COVID-19.
WASHINGTON — Calls to the Veterans Crisis Line have increased since the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, the Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed Monday.
The crisis line, a suicide prevention tool for veterans and their families, has experienced a 12% increase in call volume, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie told veterans organizations on a call Sunday. About 20% of recent calls to the hotline were related to the pandemic, the VA press secretary confirmed.
The staffing levels at the call centers are enough to meet the current demand, Press Secretary Christina Mandreucci said. She said the department is tracking the number of calls and updating its staffing plans to ensure all of them are answered.
The VA posted to its website a list of recommendations for veterans who are anxious about the pandemic. They suggested staying connected with friends and family over the phone and on social media, meditating, reducing their news consumption before going to sleep, doing activities they enjoy, focusing on what they can control, eating a balanced diet and exercising, among other things.
The department is also encouraging VA patients to stay engaged with their treatment by meeting virtually with their mental health providers. VA staff are being trained to transition their patients to telehealth, Mandreucci said.
"WE CAN'T DRAG OUR FEET ANYMORE"
Our Chairman / Founder Ronald Verini , writes 2 articles a month which are published in a regional newspaper. You can read these articles here on our Webpage just by clicking on the heading 'Veterans Articles'. This Article will be published March 29, 2020.
"WE CAN'T DRAG OUR FEET ANYMORE"
March 29th, 2020 Veteran Corner by Ronald Verini
As the COVID- 19 (coronavirus- pandemic) continues its increasing death toll our numbers of suicides related to our military also continue its march forward.
As a civilian: When was the last time you cared about a Veteran committing suicide? Or have you ever even thought about it at all? As a Veteran do you know all the places that you might get help? Do you really care about getting help?
Why do we as a community need to be involved in the mental health of our Veterans? What does the availability of drugs (legal and illegal) in our community do with the numbers committing suicide each day? Does the number ‘20’ suicides a day mean anything to you? What is all this talk about? Why should you care?
Does your Church get involved? Does your place you work educate each other about our Veterans and their plight? Does your school really care about our veterans and educate our children about them?
All of these questions have answers. Some of the answers are not what you might want to hear, but they have answers.
I look at organizations such as: ODVA, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida, Wounded Warrior Project, VFW, Legion, DAV, AMVETS, VVA, Paralyzed Veterans of America, MOAA, U.S. Armed Forces and the many others and know that many of the questions asked above are answered by these groups. I also realize that the only person that has total control is the Veteran. Others might think they are in control or have the answers but the Veteran is in control or out of control.
TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE JUST CLICK THE RED BAR BELOW..
March 13, 2020, by Leo Shane III, Military Times
As the number of coronavirus cases in the Veterans Affairs medical system continues to rise, lawmakers are asking whether officials are fully prepared for the numerous challenges ahead.
VA leadership has already insisted they are, and in a message to veterans said they coordinating their efforts with other federal agencies to “protect the health of everyone who visits or works at one of our facilities.”
As of Friday morning, at least 16 patients connected to 10 different VA medical centers nationwide have tested positive for the coronavirus or are awaiting confirmation but presumed to be infected.
VA is hoping the Draconian measures will protect more than 65,000 vulnerable veterans from infection.
Nationwide, more than 1,200 individuals in 42 states have been infected, and at least 36 have died. Numerous public school systems and universities have closed down for the next few weeks, and large conferences, professional sports and entertainment events have been cancelled.
Earlier this month, VA officials responded to congressional inquiries about the coronavirus response saying they did not need any additional funding or authorities to bolster their medical response.
Nationwide the system has about 900 isolation beds that could be used to quarantine patients with the illness, although two-thirds of those are in use by patients with other health problems.
On Tuesday, department officials announced that all VA nursing homes and spinal cord injury and disorder centers will have a “no visitor” rule in an effort to limit the virus spread. All other VA medical centers have been screening visitors for the last few weeks for signs of illness, and barring some individuals from medical campuses.
March 13, 2020, by Patricia Time, Military Times
Several congressional committees are stepping up pressure on the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to release documents about toxic pollution at a former Uzbek air base used by U.S. troops in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
On Wednesday, Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Virginia, chairwoman of the House Veterans Affairs Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee, joined a growing chorus of lawmakers seeking answers on dangerous conditions at Karshi-Khanabad Air Base, also known as K2, where more than 7,000 American military personnel worked from 2001 to 2005.
Luria sent letters to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and VA Secretary Robert Wilkie requesting documents on conditions at the installation, which included radiation, fuel and chemical contamination. She is also seeking data on veterans filing claims for illnesses possibly related to their assignment to the base.
The request follows demands from a bipartisan House Oversight and Reform Committee panel for complete military records on conditions at the installation, as well as the number and types of disability claims, injuries, illnesses, deaths and research on K2 veterans.
Contamination at a former Soviet and Uzbek military base used by the U.S. Armed Forces in the early 2000s may be responsible for incidence of cancer among veterans.
iting studies that showed K2 veterans were five times more likely to develop some cancers than those who deployed elsewhere, as well as reports of chemical and radiation exposure, Luria said she is concerned that “VA has not acknowledged a relationship between serving on K-2 and diagnosis of cancers or death,” and that the Defense Department is ignoring the problem.
March 10, 2020 by Dylan Gresik, Military Times
March 8 is International Women’s Day — a celebration which would be incomplete if the female trailblazers of the United States Army were not recognized. Though not often viewed as equals by their male counterparts, women have dutifully served their country since the days of the American Revolution. From breaking barriers in combat to challenging the status quo across eras, here are eight female soldiers who changed the course of history for the U.S. military.
Pvt. Cathay Williams began her journey with the U.S. military in a support role during the Civil War, forced to serve due to her status as a captured slave, the National Park Service noted. After the war, Williams became the first black female to enlist when she joined the U.S. Army under a male pseudonym, William Cathay, in 1866, the Army noted.
“A young, female, unmarried former slave,” Williams joined the Army without a full medical examination, and she was assigned to the 38th U.S. Infantry Regiment – which would become part of the famed Buffalo Soldiers, according to Wounded Warrior Project.
Suffering from smallpox, Williams was discovered to be a woman while undergoing treatment and was honorably discharged in 1868. She continued in her work as a military cook at Fort Union, New Mexico. Her story was documented in the St. Louis Daily Times in 1876.
What is the White House VA Hotline?
The hotline’s pilot began under direction of the Veterans Experience Office on June 1, 2017, and entered phase two on October 15, 2017.
White House VA Hotline: 1-855-948-2311.
Calls are answered by a live agent 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The hotline is staffed by more than 60 agents who have had extensive training on VA programs and services. Most of these agents are a Veteran, military family member, caregiver or a survivor.
The White House VA Hotline conducts immediate warm hand offs for at-crisis risk Veterans needing the services of the Veterans Crisis Line.
Trends identified by the hotline will be used to rapidly respond to systemic inefficiencies and empower VA employees to resolve Veteran concerns quickly.
03/26/20 by James Barber, Military.com - Anyone who’s familiar with Army veteran, YouTube star, Black Rifle Coffee entrepreneur and hyperactive force of nature Mat Best knew he wouldn’t be sitting on his butt watching Netflix once the COVID-19 quarantine hit. Our boy has instead been keeping busy writing and recording with Tim Montana, enlisting his fellow veterans and celebrity friends to make an appropriately social-distanced video and now they’ve delivered the best country song you’ll hear.
Governors of several states have activated National Guard Members to help fight the Coronavirus
March 28, 2020 by Dorothy Mills-Gregg, Military.com
The Department of Veterans Affairs is beginning to divide its inpatient units into two zones to separate non-infectious patients from those with novel coronavirus, officials said. And when the need arises, as the new phased plan predicts it will, officials plan to discharge non-critical patients and even build new facilities.
The plan is part of a four-phased pandemic response blueprint released Friday, weeks after the VA was criticized for not publicly disclosing its plan to help veterans and the federal government respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The VA is currently in Phase 2, "Initial Response," which means staff are focusing on mitigating local or regional outbreaks by creating two zones.
Phase 3 is when the condition becomes drastic -- patient demand surpasses the VA's capability or supply chain. All routine care will be reduced or stopped at VA medical facilities, and the VA staff will then begin using other spaces like an outlying ward or field hospital to take in veterans and possibly the civilian public.
In outbreak mitigation phase, standard and COVID-19 zones will have separate air flows and staff restrooms and break and call rooms to eliminate the chance of cross contamination. This new division is in addition to the VA's current practice of pre-screening patients and asking them to call instead of just walking into a clinic.
Click the 'red-bar' below for full story......
March 26, 2020 by Oriana Pawlyk, Military.com
As novel coronavirus cases continue to spread among the ranks, top officials and health leaders have emphasized that the military must take crucial steps to help stop it, including new health-protection conditions (HPCON) and increased social distancing measures on bases.
But photos taken just last week show troops training side by side or participating in large gatherings amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Publicly released military photos show service members participating in drill exercises and live-fire training, among other activities that require them to operate in close proximity.
The U.S. military services began taking precautions as early as March 7. Some services and commands attempted to limit human contact as much as possible with telework and virtual meetings, while others began canceling events and overseas travel. The protective measures even applied to brand-new service members as the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard began screening all new recruits for coronavirus symptoms earlier this month to prevent potential spread throughout the force, officials confirmed to Military.com on March 4.
This week, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that, while social distancing may be impossible inside a tank or on a submarine, "If you can avoid putting ... a large number of people in small rooms, you should do it."
By Meghan Holohan
When baby Jace started crying, his father, Jeff Lee, struggled. True, the wail of a baby triggers anxious concern in most parents — but this was different. Little Jace’s screams reminded Jeff of the sound of a wounded Marine.
“There was a pitch that Jace would hit that sounded like a person who was hit on the battlefield,” Jeff’s wife, Jolynn Lee, 49, of Hubert, North Carolina, told TODAY Parents. “He couldn’t stand to hear him cry.”
Jeff enlisted in the U.S. Marines immediately after high school and deployed to Iraq during the first Gulf War. He later enrolled in the Marines’ Enlisted to Officer program to further his military career, and he found himself back in Iraq during the Iraq War. In 2004, during the brutal first Battle of Fallujah, Jeff got shot in the shoulder and bicep. He duct-taped himself up so he could continue fighting, and he earned a Purple Heart and Silver Star. But the man who returned home from Iraq was not the same person his family remembered.
“That is where our lives changed,” Jolynn said. “I was familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder and combat trauma. You can’t be part of the military and not at least hear of it. Experiencing it was a whole different ball game.”
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released in January an updated Department of Defense (DOD) list of locations outside of Vietnam where tactical herbicides were used, tested or stored by the United States military.
“This update was necessary to improve accuracy and communication of information,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “VA depends on DOD to provide information regarding in-service environmental exposure for disability claims based on exposure to herbicides outside of Vietnam."
DOD conducted a thorough review of research, reports and government publications in response to a November 2018 Government Accountability Office report.
“DOD will continue to be responsive to the needs of our interagency partners in all matters related to taking care of both current and former service members,” said Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper. “The updated list includes Agents Orange, Pink, Green, Purple, Blue and White and other chemicals and will be updated as verifiable information becomes available.”
Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during service may be eligible for a variety of VA benefits, including an Agent Orange Registry health exam, health care and disability compensation for diseases associated with exposure. Their dependents and survivors also may be eligible for benefits.
November 25, 2019 By Dorothy Mills-Gregg, Military.com
For veterans who think they were exposed to toxic substances during their service, the Department of Veterans Affairs has a mobile application that will help them answer questions about what this potential exposure means for their long-term health.
Originally designed for VA providers, Exposure Ed now lets anyone view a list of service-related exposures -- broken down by type, conflict and date or location of service. It also has a map veterans can use to find the closest VA facilities and exposure-related programs.
For example, veterans thinking they came into contact with the Vietnam-era herbicide Agent Orange can use the "Exposures" button on the home page for immediate access to a list of illnesses related to exposure. Or, veterans can input in the time and location they served to view everything they might have been exposed to.
The last option sorts exposure risks by conflict, ranging from World War II to Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn.
November 7, 2019 by Patricia Time, Military.com
Veterans with iPhones can now view their Department of Veterans Affairs medical records through their phone’s Health app.
VA and Apple began rolling out the capability during the summer but issued formal announcements this week, just ahead of Veterans Day.
“We have delivered veterans an innovative new way to easily and securely access their health information,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said Nov. 6 in a release. “Veterans deserve access to their health data at any time and in one place, and with health records on the Health app, VA has pushed the veterans experience forward.”
Veterans will see an aggregated view of their VA health care information such as lab results, medical history, procedures and medications.
Information from private medical providers also is available if that provider participates in the Apple Health program. More than 400 companies are on board, including Johns Hopkins, University of California San Diego, Quest Diagnostics and Allscripts.
In 1861, 29-year-old Dr. Mary Walker applied to become a surgeon with the Union Army, as she had been one of the few female physicians in the country prior to the start of the Civil War. She was rejected but remained on as a volunteer, leveraging her skills to treat the wounded, AUSA noted.
Two years later, Walker finally received an appointment to serve an assistant surgeon in the U.S. Army, after spending additional time as a field surgeon in Virginia, according to an Army story. In the latter years of the war, Walker was captured by Confederate forces, held in squalid conditions as a prisoner of war, yet another in a long line of abuses due to her status as a woman.
She lobbied for women’s causes and for her service during the war, she was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1865. The award was later rescinded in 1917 due to her status as a civilian, but President Carter restored the award in 1977, the Army noted.
Dr. Mary Walker remains the only woman to have received the Medal of Honor in U.S. history.
Col. Mary Hallaren became a member of the first training class of the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (later, Women’s Army Corps, or WAC) in 1942 before commanding the largest all-female unit to serve overseas. In 1948, while serving as WAC’s director, Hallaren “was instrumental” in advocating for women to be fully integrated as “permanent regular members” of the military beyond just wartime, according to the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Hallaren, who had originally enlisted in the military following the Pearl Harbor attack, later became the first commissioned officer in the Regular Army, not a medical role, in 1948, according to the Army’s Center of Military History.
“To me there was no question that women should serve,” Hallaren said, as reported by the New York Times.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) begins deciding Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 claims, Jan. 1, 2020, extending the presumption of herbicide exposure that include toxins such as Agent Orange, to Veterans who served in the offshore waters of the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
Prior to the measure, only Vietnam War Veterans who served on the ground in Vietnam or within Vietnam’s inland waterways were eligible to receive disability compensation and other benefits based on a presumption of herbicide exposure.
Qualifying recipients, in addition to affected Veterans still living, are certain survivors of deceased BWN and Korean DMZ Veterans.
Survivors can file claims for benefits based on the Veteran’s service if the Veteran died from at least one of the 14 presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange. The law also provides benefits for children born with spina bifida if their parent is or was a Veteran with certain verified service in Thailand during a specific period.
We thank all the Supporters, Businesses and Friends for giving their time and resources in helping and caring for our Veterans, Military and First Responders and their Families.
We really appreciate your interest too, in 'Who we are and What we do'. If you have any questions or suggestions or would like to 'volunteer' or 'donate', well please contact us with an email, a phone call, or just drop on into the office.
You are always welcome to come and join us Monday thru Friday from 9am to 4pm. We are a "No Dues' nonprofit organization with the coffee pot always on and lots of conversation always available. Bring your questions regarding any veteran services you are concerned about, and we will do our best to steer you in the right direction.
Our phone is 541-889-1978, and we are located in Ontario, Oregon at 180 W. Idaho Ave.
A LOCAL VETERAN/MILITARY MUSEUM HONORING OUR REGIONAL 'HEROE'S', THEIR STORIES AND THEIR FAMILIES.
Just 'click-on' the "Find out More" red bar below, to see a photo gallery of some of the Military memorabilia and artifacts that we have collected and that have been 'donated' by the many area Families that have a Military History.
CONVIENLENTLY LOCATED IN THE FRONT BUILDING AT OUR MAIN OFFICES
180 W. IDAHO AVE, ONTARIO, OR 97914
CALL 541-889-1978 FOR HOURS AND SPECIAL SHOWINGS - M/F 10am to 4pm
********BECAUSE OF A RECENT SNOW STORM EARLY DECEMBER, THE ROOF OF OUR MUSEUM HAS BEEN DAMAGED AND WE HAVE HAD TO CLOSE THE MUSEUM TO CLEAN-UP & REPAIR THE ROOF******** SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE, WE WILL POST A NOTICE WHEN WE WILL BE ABLE TO RE-OPEN************
Re-dedicated this last June 2019, to the memory and Honor of one of our local Heroes. The Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida extend to you an open invitation to visit the Museum and Library and learn more about Sgt. Brennen and all of our local and regional Heroes who have served our great Country, and the many who did "GIVE ALL".
You may arrange special viewing appointments by calling our offices at 541-889-1978, Monday thru Friday from 9am to 4pm.
October 11, 2019, By Mathew Cox, Military.com
The graphic novel on former Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta tells the story of the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, according to the release.
Then Spec. Giunta, of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, was on patrol in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan in October 2007 when his platoon was ambushed by Taliban fighters.
"Braving rocket-propelled grenades and intense smalls arms fire, Giunta advanced on the enemy, prevented the capture of a fellow paratrooper and turned the tide of the battle," the release states.
In July 2017, Giunta presented his Medal of Honor to his fellow paratroopers of the 173rd AirborneWE AT THE VETERAN ADVOCATES OF ORE-IDA, DEDICATED EARLIER THIS YEAR OUR 'MILITARY/VETERAN MUSEUM' TO THE MEMORY OF SGT. JOSHUA C. BRENNAN, ONE OF THE WOUNDED COMRADES THAT SPEC. SAL GIUNTA PULLED FROM THE TALIBAN FIGHTERS. SGT. BRENNAN LATER DIED OF HIS WOUNDS. SGT. BRENNAN WAS A LOCAL RESIDENT AND A GRADUATE OF OUR ONTARIO, OREGON HIGH SCHOOL.
"We are excited to share these stories with readers," Joseph Craig, director of AUSA's Book Program, said in the release. "It has been personally rewarding to learn more about these remarkable soldiers, and we have been fortunate to work with such a talented creative team to bring this history to life."
Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida Doing The Right Things for The Right Reasons - Supporting Military Members- Veterans- and Their Families
We support 'Our Mission' through Donations and an All Volunteer Staff. Pictured here to the right is a young High School Senior whose Senior Project was to raise money for our Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida programs, which he did by completing an engine swap in a Ford Taurus and thus raised $2,666.75. He is pictured with our Chairman and a few of our Veteran Volunteers.
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180 W. Idaho Ave Ontario, OR 97914, US