Rounds requests enhanced VA support for at-risk military veterans

U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) recently made a bipartisan request that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) ensures targeted healthcare for America’s at-risk military veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sen. Rounds and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), in a letter sent to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, expressed particular concerns about at-risk veterans, such as those exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances and who suffer from higher rates of asthma, emphysema and rare lung disorders that could be exacerbated by contracting the coronavirus.

“The VA estimates that over 3.5 million veterans have been exposed to burn pits, and over 200,000 veterans and servicemembers have signed up for the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry to date,” according to the senators’ letter. “Given the significant number of at-risk veterans, it is critical that the VA prioritizes efforts to ensure that these brave men and women are able to safely receive care during the current public health crisis.”

Sen. Rounds and his colleague requested that Secretary Wilkie provide them with information on how the VA is expanding telehealth capabilities through its Readjustment Counseling Services (RCS) facilities to provide veterans with greater access to care, and they also requested details on what the VA is doing to provide all necessary medical and sanitation supplies to veteran centers and other RCS access points.

“It is important that staff have the necessary medical equipment and supplies, including masks, gloves and sanitation supplies, to safely interact with and provide services to veterans visiting their facilities for telehealth appointments and other essential business,” the letter said.

Additionally, the senators asked Secretary Wilkie to communicate with veterans about the resources that are available to them during the pandemic.