American Legion Daily News Clips 4.15.20

The word “swims” upside down is “swims.” I know, right? Mind, blown!

As always, these clips will be entirely “Tiger King” Spoiler-Free. My promise to you.

Today is Wednesday, April 15, 2020, which in the prehistoric age where the world hadn’t lost its collective mind was Tax Day. You signed off on your check knowing it was going to a great cause like investigating the mating patterns of the spotted breasted snail darter, and waited for the Masters to start Thursday Morning. Sigh.

Inspirational message today provided by the fine people of Guinness. VIDEO HERE.

Over our 260 years, we’ve been through a lot. And we’re confident if we all support each other, we will come out of this closer than ever.

Don’t toast with your friends! At least not up close and personal.

A toast isn’t just about raising your glass, it’s about raising each other. And even though we can’t toast physically, we can toast virtually. Share a pint with your friend, try a new kind of happy hour. This is not only a time to be safe but a time to be good to each other. Text your neighbor, see how they’re doing. Call your grandparents, let them hear your voice.

When time is right we’ll meet you in the pub. We’ll help our bartenders get back on their feet and we will all toast again.


[For everyone waiting anxiously for Corona-free news… is not your day. A brief note though, these clips may start to be 3 times a week instead of 5 times a week at some point as the stories seem to
just be the same day after day.]

If you wish to be removed from this email list, kindly email me at mseavey with “Remove from Daily Clips” in the subject line. If you have received this from someone who forwarded it and would like to be added, email me at mseavey and I will promptly add you to the list, that you might get the daily American Legion News.

Military Times: Veterans groups step up efforts to help with coronavirus financial challenges and isolation

Leo Shane III
16 hours ago

A member of the American Legion salutes as group members retire flag displays after a memorial service held at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Ilwaco, Washington on Jan. 11, 2020. (Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read/Coast Guard)

As veterans across the country cope with the ongoing effects of the coronavirus outbreak, veterans organizations are scrambling to find ways to help.
On Tuesday, officials from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America announced an expansion of their Quick Reaction Force program, designed to connect veterans with local resources who can answer benefits questions, job issues and other challenges. The move was originally planned for later this summer, but the coronavirus crisis moved those plans up.
“We saw a big increase in use in the first quarter, and we imagine that need is going to continue to rise,” said Sean Ullman, chief development officer for IAVA. “Right now our biggest issues are job loss and navigating benefits, related to coronavirus.”
Similarly, this week officials from the American Legion reconfigured their Buddy Check program launched last year to refocus on the current pandemic. Local posts are being tasked with outreach to veterans throughout their communities, to ensure individuals are healthy and still connected despite illness-mandated isolation.
“Legionnaires are using the phone, email and social media to safely find out how these veterans are doing and what we can do to help them,” American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford said in a statement.
“They might need something from the store or pharmacy. Sometimes, for a veteran who is alone and on orders to stay home, the most important thing is a phone call.”
Other groups have adopted a direct financial assistance approach to the current crisis. Last week, officials from Wounded Warrior Project announced they will award grants up to $1,000 for groceries, rent payments, and other essential expenses to injured veterans hurt by the ongoing pandemic. Individuals must be members of the group to apply for the money.
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On Monday, officials from Disabled American Veterans followed suit, offering $250 grants to struggling veterans. Any veteran with a service-connected disability can apply for the assistance, through the group’s web site.
The PenFed Foundation has announced its own $1,500 grant for active-duty service members, Guard and Reserve troops, and veterans. Priority for that program will be families who have lost their primary income in the last few weeks. Officials at Semper Fi Fund have been providing gift cards and food baskets to military families in addition to direct financial aid.
Various state agencies have also begun their own outreach programs. Late last month, the Minnesota State Legislature approved special funding for veterans hurt by business closings and employment changes due to coronavirus. The $1,000 one-time emergency payments are available to state residents who are veterans or a surviving spouse of a deceased veteran.
Indiana has expanded its rules for the state’s Military Family Relief Fund, which is normally open only to veterans who served during war time. In light of recent events, the program is now open to all veterans affected by the virus’ impact, and veterans who previously received financial assistance may be able to get additional funds.
And the New York City Veterans Alliance has been providing direct assistance to veterans and families in NYC since mid-March, thanks to direct funding from the New York State Health Foundation.
But Ullman said sometimes the best help assistance veterans can receive is assistance navigating already existing benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
VA officials have said that benefits payments will continue as normal through the pandemic response, and by direction of the White House the department has extended a host of deadlines for submitting and revising claims.
To mitigate the need to visit department offices, VA has waived the need for ink signatures on documents and promised relaxed rules for submitting some paperwork.
Veterans can review those changes and other benefits adjustments at the VA web site.

Military Times: Internal memos call into question VA’s still-rising coronavirus count
Leo Shane III
14 hours ago
The official tally of coronavirus cases in the Veterans Affairs’ health system topped 4,200 on Tuesday, but internal VA documents obtained by Military Times call into question how reliable that figure is.
The number of veteran cases has risen steadily over the last month, as the fast-spreading virus has sickened more than 579,000 individuals across America.
On March 14, only 30 coronavirus cases were confirmed at a handful of VA medical centers. Today, VA reported 4,261 at 118 department sites.
That includes 37 inpatient and outpatient cases at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. But internal hospital memos sent Monday and obtained by Military Times listed 66 already-confirmed cases of the illness among its patients. Local hospital officials could not be reached for comment on the discrepancy.
Last week, similar internal memos made public by the Wall Street Journal showed significant problems with availability of personal protective equipment despite VA leadership’s public insistence that staff supplies are adequate.
As of Tuesday, 257 patients and at least nine VA staffers have died from coronavirus-related complications.
The death rate from the virus among VA patients who have contracted the virus is about 6 percent, well above the rate for the country as a whole. The latest national data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows about a 4 percent death rate among all Americans with the illness.

However, the VA population being tested and treated for coronavirus is significantly older than the American population as a whole. Health experts have said that elderly and infirm individuals are particularly susceptible to fatal respiratory issues connected to the virus.
Only one individual in VA care who has died from the virus has been under the age of 40. Nearly three-quarters of the VA patient deaths have been 70 or older.
Based on the latest official department data, here are where the VA coronavirus cases and deaths are located:
New York City has been among the hardest hit areas by the illness, with about 19 percent of all the confirmed cases in the United States. On Tuesday, VA’s medical center in Brooklyn became the deadliest site in the system so far (with 32 fatalities), passing the department’s hospital in New Orleans (with 31). VA’s site in the Bronx has seen 27 deaths.
The New Orleans site still hosts the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the department’s health system, with 429.
In addition to taking care of veteran patients, VA officials in recent weeks have activated their “fourth mission” to support community health care needs by making more than 1,500 beds available to non-veteran patients.
On Tuesday, the department said it has already cared for 80 outside patients in New York, 24 in New Jersey, 27 in Michigan and four in New Mexico. Five of those patients in New York and one in New Jersey died from the illness.
In a statement, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said that “helping Veterans is our first mission, but in many locations across the country we’re helping states and local communities. VA is in this fight not only for the millions of veterans we serve each day; we’re in the fight for the people of the United States.”
VA officials have said that opening those areas to non-veteran patients will not hurt delivery of care to any veterans who need it. Officials also said any veteran with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath should contact their local VA facility before visiting to determine their next steps.
Stripes: ‘An arduous and tough situation’ for military medical personnel deployed to front lines of virus fight

Published: April 14, 2020
Workdays for the military medical personnel overseeing the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan begin at about 5 a.m., where about 200 military and civilian nurses prepare for a 12-hour shift caring for coronavirus patients, said Army Lt. Col. Leslie Curtis, chief nursing officer of the 9th Field Hospital, which is deployed to New York City from Fort Hood, Texas.
“We have very strict protocol … to protect every single person,” Curtis said Tuesday. “We are extremely busy.”
The center averages about 325 coronavirus patients a day in the 2,500-bed facility. The staff — a joint force of Army, Navy, Air Force and civilian personnel — sees about 125 new patients each day and about 40 to 50 discharges.
Military personnel have been in New York City for about two weeks in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The city has been the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic with more than 106,800 coronavirus cases as of Tuesday. Nationwide, there are more than 584,000 cases, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The virus has killed more than 25,000 Americans.
The pooling of forces at the Javits Center is unique, Curtis said.
“This is an extraordinary time in history to come together with all services providing care in an arduous and tough situation,” she said.
New medical personnel is routinely joining the effort at the center — about 20 to 30 a day — who must be processed and credentialed, Curtis said. Many of them watch for a day before they are added to the facility’s work schedule. In two weeks, the nursing staff has expanded from 12 teams to 27 teams working shifts around the clock.
U.S. Northern Command is overseeing more than 13,200 active-duty and Reserve service members deployed in at least seven states in response to the coronavirus pandemic. More people are added every day. On Friday, the Army Reserve announced eight medical task forces to deploy to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. As of Tuesday, three more units were announced to support efforts in Michigan and Massachusetts.
The troops are in addition to the more than 30,000 National Guard members working in communities in all U.S. states and territories, according to the National Guard Bureau.
Other cities receiving relief efforts include Edison and Newark, N.J., Stamford, Conn., Boston and Detroit. Each of those cities received at least one 85-member Army Reserve Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force consisting of respiratory specialists, infectious disease specialists, doctors, nurses, medics and behavioral health specialists, according to Army North officials.
One team deployed to Detroit on Friday and began seeing patients Sunday at a 1,000-bed alternate care facility built by the Federal Emergency Management Agency inside the TCF Center.
Detroit is considered a potential future hotspot for the coronavirus and so far, it has more than 6,700 confirmed cases of the virus. The state has more than 25,600, according to the governor’s office.
The alternate care site opened Friday, according to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and expects to have about 250 patients transferred to the facility by the end of the week.
Meanwhile, the majority of military personnel are concentrated in New York City.
More than 400 military personnel are working inside 11 New York hospitals, some of them functioning as their own teams within intensive care units while others are filling in personnel gaps among civilian providers as needed, said Navy Capt. Joe Kochan, executive officer for the Operational Health Support Unit Portsmouth, a Navy Reserve unit based at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va. Kochan deployed to New York City, working primarily in Elmhurst Hospital.
Military support varies in each hospital based on whatever the facility needs to relieve their own personnel who’ve been in this fight against the virus for about 35 to 45 days, he said.
Air Force Col. Jennifer Ratcliff, commander of the 927th Aerospace Medical Squadron from MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., said once her personnel received credentials, military teams quickly integrated themselves into New York’s hospitals.
“We’re a fresh face. We’ve got the energy and enthusiasm to really help these people who are tired and have been working very long days and weeks,” she said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that there are some good signs that coronavirus cases are beginning to plateau in the state and hospitalizations are beginning to level.
As the state and local government respond to the changing curve of the virus, Curtis said the military personnel at the Javits Center will evolve to meet the needs of the community. Staffers are prepared to meet any need.
“They have the [personal protective equipment] they need. They have everything we can think of to make it easier to do the job they are doing,” she said.
Twitter: @Rose_Lori Army Deploys Reserve Medical Specialists to Aid Overwhelmed City Hospitals

14 Apr 2020 | By Matthew Cox
The U.S. Army has mobilized 1,275 Reserve medical specialists to reinforce civilian hospitals in areas of the country that are struggling to handle novel coronavirus cases.
The 15 Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces each have 85 soldiers capable of providing the same service as a 250-bed hospital, according to a recent service announcement.
The Army vetted all Reserve volunteers to make sure they were not already supporting hospitals in their own communities, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said in the release.
"We did not want to take medical personnel out of civilian communities where they were actually fighting the virus," he said. "We knew that there was going to be a lot of demand for medical professionals. … We put together these 15 Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces, and they are motivated and ready to go."
Each task force has 14 physicians, including an infectious disease specialist and four respiratory specialists, according to the release. Each also has 16 medics, 13 nurses, five physician assistants, two dentists, four pharmacists, two clinical psychologists, a psychiatrist, two occupational therapy specialists, four dieticians and other supporting staff to perform low-triage care, as well as test for COVID-19.
The task forces have deployed to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, before moving on to their assigned hospitals. Four task forces will help in New York City, three are going to hospitals in New Jersey and another one will go to Connecticut, according to the release.
The remaining seven task forces are on standby and can be ready to travel within 24 hours, McConville said in the release.
About 29,000 Air and Army National Guard troops have deployed across the U.S. and its territories in support of the COVID-19 response.
Guardsmen have built mobile COVID-19 test sites to relieve some of the burden of screening emergency room patients for coronavirus at treatment facilities in Miami and Chicago, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in the release, adding that the test sites will be able to process thousands of screenings at a faster rate.
"What it does if you go from the screening to the recovery point and the health care continuum, it helps create an arm’s reach in the screening … instead of overrunning an emergency room with hundreds of people, which then presents the challenge for healthcare professionals to not getting sick," McCarthy said.
"So, by going to the [test site], you can have many of these people get diagnosed, they get prescriptions and they go home, as opposed to overwhelming emergency rooms."