*Click here to learn how the American Rescue Plan will help veterans, their families, and the VA.*
COVID-19 FAQS FOR VETERANS
Answers to many frequently asked questions (FAQs) can be found here.
Q: What should veterans do if they have symptoms of COVID-19?
If you have any of these emergency warning signs, call 911 to get help now:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent (continuing) pain or pressure in the chest
- Bluish lips or face
- Suddenly feeling or acting confused
- Trouble waking up or staying awake
The VA's Annie text messaging service can help you monitor your symptoms,This service can advise you when to contact your VA care team or your facility’s advice nurse. It also provides general wellness tips and steps you can take to protect yourself. Ask your VA care team to assign the service to you. Or subscribe to Annie coronavirus precautions messages yourself.
Q: What should I do if I need to schedule a VA health appointment?
If you need care, please don’t delay. The VA can provide safe care to meet your needs. The VA encourages you to consider a phone or video appointment for routine needs. If you or VA canceled an appointment due to COVID-19, you can contact us anytime to reschedule.
The fastest way to schedule an appointment is to contact your VA health care provider directly. You can do that in either of these 2 ways:
- Send a secure message to your provider or
- Call your provider - Find your VA health facility’s phone number
You may also be able to request some types of appointments—like mental health appointments—online through our VA appointments tool.
If your provider schedules a video telehealth appointment: Your provider will give you instructions about where to go for your video appointment. Or they’ll send you a link to join VA Video Connect. You can also join video appointments through our VA appointments tool.
If you go to a VA health facility for an in-person appointment: You’ll need to wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose. You’ll also need to complete our COVID-19 symptom screening when you arrive. Find out what to do if the VA cancels your appointment or procedure.
COVID-19 VACCINE AVAILABILITY
All veterans, spouses, caregivers and some dependents can soon receive a COVID-19 vaccine at their local Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility. Previously, vaccines were being offered only to those enrolled in the VA health care system. The move is a result of the SAVE LIVES Act, signed by President Biden on March 24, which removed legal limits set on the care VA can provide. This change increases the number of individuals eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine at the VA from 9.5 million to over 33 million, according to VA Secretary Denis McDonough. Therefore, the new expanded eligibility will depend on the amount of vaccine supply available.
For information about COVID-19 vaccine availability through the VA Maryland Health Care System, click here.
If you'd like to get regular updates about COVID-19 vaccines at VA, sign up to stay informed. Your employer, pharmacy, or local public health officials may offer you a COVID-19 vaccine. The VA encourages you to take the first opportunity you have to get a vaccine at the most convenient location for you.
If you're not currently receiving health care through VA, find out if you're eligible for VA health care and how to apply.
THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN
The American Rescue Plan includes $17 billion to support the VA's response to the pandemic. This funding will help ease thousands of veterans’ worries by waiving medical copayments, speeding up VA compensation claims processing, and supporting retraining veterans for high-demand jobs.
$14.5 billion for COVID-19 related health care, including information technology and facility requirements, ensuring access for 9.2 million enrolled Veterans who may have delayed care or have more complex health care needs as a result of the pandemic. It also provides resources for Veterans currently receiving housing support, including an estimated 37,000 homeless Veterans.
- $1 billion for debt forgiveness related to copayments or other cost sharing that Veterans paid for VA health care, and to reimburse Veterans who paid a copay or other cost sharing for care and prescriptions provided from April 6, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2021.
- $750 million for both construction grants ($500 million) and payments ($250 million) to State Homes to greatly improve the living conditions of our most vulnerable Veterans.
- $386 million to initiate a COVID–19 Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program that provides up to 12 months of training and employment assistance for unemployed Veterans to enter high demand occupations.
- $262 million to reduce the backlog of compensation and pension claims, which has grown from 76,000 in March 2020 to more than 212,000 in March 2021. The ARP funding will enable the Veterans Benefits Administration to reduce the claims backlog to around 100,000 by September 2022.
- $100 million to facilitate the modernization of VA’s badly antiquated supply chain system by accelerating the Department’s transition to the Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support.
- $80 million to establish the Department of Veterans Affairs Employee Leave Fund, which provides funds for paid leave for COVID-19 related causes.
- $10 million to decrease the Board of Veterans’ Appeals hearing requests (currently 87,499) and intake (35,000 appeals) backlogs. These efforts help Veterans economically by resolving their VA appeals and, if granted, allowing them to begin receiving compensation and services.
Veterans experiencing unemployment and other financial hardships may also qualify for further assistance with an extension of unemployment insurance benefits, stimulus checks, or expansion of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits.
- Veterans with children could benefit from additional stimulus payments, an increased child tax credit and expanded childcare tax credits.
- Veterans are prioritized for the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Grants in the Small Business Administration’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund. During the initial 21-day period in which the Small Business Administration (SBA) awards grants under this program, SBA will prioritize awarding grants to eligible entities that are owned and controlled by Veterans.
- Helps small businesses in economically disadvantaged areas keep front line state and local public workers on the job and paid, and helps public transit agencies avoid layoffs and service reductions.
- Assists communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, many of which are Veterans living in diverse communities across the country. Women and racial/ethnic minorities are becoming the fastest-growing populations of Veterans, and the COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding economic crisis have hit communities of color and women particularly hard.
- Provides emergency funding for community investments to ease challenges experienced by many American Indian/Alaska Native Veterans and their families. It provides much needed relief for healing in the aftermath of the tremendous losses during the pandemic.
- Closes what is known as the “90/10 loophole” to protect the integrity of the GI Bill and Veterans in receipt of their well-earned education benefits.
The Veteran Crisis Line is 1-800-273-8255.
The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) has taken numerous unprecedented steps to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Maryland. View MDVA program updates here.
Please visit the Governor’s website for the most up to date information on executive orders and responses to COVID-19 in Maryland.