Veterans Roundup: Military Medical Staff Aid Civilian Doctors, Legislative Package for Student Veterans, and More

Posted by Fred Wellman

‘We’ve Got the Energy:’ Military Doctors Relieve Worn-Out Staff in NYC Hospitals, Richard Sisk

In COVID-19 hotspots across the country, military medical staff are filtering into hospitals, including emerging field hospitals, in order to provide relief to over-stretched civilian medical personnel. Initially, ships like the 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship Comfort, were sent to New York City with a mission to take on the overflow of non-COVID patients. However, strategy to provide staffing relief has changed primarily due to “bureaucratic and logistical problems,” hindering the transfer of patients onto the ship. Adapting to the situation at hand, Navy doctors are now moving off the ship and into the hospitals on the ground. According to the article, over 1,100 volunteer doctors, nurses and medical aides from the reserves have deployed to the city already, with more deployments happening in the coming weeks. What we are experiencing is the United States military’s extraordinary capability to adapt and provide humanitarian support during a time of extreme need and crisis. This is very different from the military missions that I and so many others were involved in during our time in service, where our missions were primarily focused on war-making instead of relief efforts. Yet, the opportunity and need for relief efforts is ever present across the globe. After the COVID-19 crisis dissipates (fingers crossed that it does), let’s make humanitarian relief and demilitarization our primary mission, instead of a continuation of what has been our operating norm of the forever wars. Military veterans are also stepping up to the plate as they often do to help our communities. Their unique set of skills backed by the high quality training they received throughout their military careers makes them a valuable asset; as our very own Fred Wellman is proving by operating right now as the Chief of Staff of the Ryan F. Larkin NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia University’s Baker Field, a temporary hospital created to care for COVID-19 patients. There are a lot of veterans out there who served in healthcare-related career fields while in service, yet are unable to put their valuable skills to practice in the civilian sector due to a lack of skills translation and lack of a civilian validated credential. The COVID-19 crisis is revealing just how necessary it is to recognize this high-quality training and set service members up on a pathway to quickly gain a high-quality credential that is recognized by civilian sectors. We have more to share with you on this front as our client the Lumina Foundation, in partnership with the American Legion, is working to advance military credentialing through the Military Credentialing Advancement Initiative (MCAI). Insights gained from the MCAI will be used to publish a report offering recommendations to key stakeholders for principles and guidelines necessary to ensure military-based learning can count toward high-quality, stackable civilian credentials. It is really amazing what we can accomplish when we put the needs of people and our communities at the center. Stay healthy and hopeful, America. We’ve got your back. – Kiersten Downs, PhD, Research Director at ScoutComms

Coronavirus death rate among veterans continues to climb
Military Times, Leo Shane III (@LeoShane)

There is a significantly higher percentage of COVID-19 cases among veterans than the rest of the general public, and the fatality rate among Veterans Affairs patients continues to rise. The death rate among these patients who have contracted the disease is 6.5 percent, a figure that has been steadily rising over the past three weeks. Nationally, the percentage of deaths from positive cases is 5 percent, making the VA patient death rate higher than the national average. There are 129 VA medical centers that have reported having at least one positive coronavirus case, and over the last month more than 1,500 VA employees have tested positive. Out of those 1,500 cases, at least 14 of them have died. 

Lawmakers pass second emergency package to protect student veterans from coronavirus losses
Military Times, Leo Shane III (@LeoShane)

After passing an initial legislative package to guarantee stability in student veterans’ education benefit payouts while many colleges switch to online learning, Congress recently passed a second legislative package to ensure that student veterans receive consistent work study payments through the remainder of the semester. The new legislation, which was “hailed…as an important step in protecting veterans’ financial future,” also protected GI Bill housing payments even in a scenario where colleges are fully shuttered, in addition to protecting “this semester’s lost entitlements.” Tanya Ang, vice president of Veterans Education Success, reportedly commented that the legislative package “provides much needed relief for VA work-study allowing [student veterans] the opportunity to focus on…the health of themselves and their families.” The legislation received bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress and will soon be sent to the White House where it is expected to be signed into law.

Quarantined Theodore Roosevelt crew erupts into cheers for the Marines taking care of them
Just the News, Susan Katz Keating (@SKatzKeating)

The USS Theodore Roosevelt, the aircraft carrier at the center of one of the biggest coronavirus outbreaks in the U.S. Armed Forces, came together to organize a “thank you cheer” in appreciation for the unit of Marines tasked with looking after the ship’s quarantined sailors. The Roosevelt is docked in Guam while its crew undergo two-week quarantines, and the sailors are “being cared for by Marines who prepare food, deliver water, remove garbage, do laundry and otherwise help the sailors.” Marine Corps Cpt. Vicente Huerta and his unit produced a video in which they discussed how the Marines were “flooded with [appreciation] letters,” and Huerta commented that the thank you cheer “gave him goosebumps.” The Roosevelt has also been in the news recently as its skipper, Capt. Brett Crozier, was fired following his “letter pleading for the Navy to better help his crew” as it struggled with a massive coronavirus outbreak.

Study of malaria drug on VA virus patients shows no benefit, more deaths
Stars and Stripes, Nikki Wentling (@nikkiwentling)

The anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, did not work on patients recently treated by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The data collected represents the largest data set in the world regarding coronavirus patients who’ve been treated with hydroxychloroquine, and researchers stated, “in this study, we found no evidence that use of hydroxychloroquine, either with or without azithromycin, reduced the risk of mechanical ventilation in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.” Among the patients in the study, researchers found there were more deaths among patients who were given the drug, than patients who received standard care. The study was paid for by the National Institutes of Health and University of Virginia and was submitted to the New England Journal of Medicine, but the Associated Press reported that it has not yet been reviewed by other scientists. Researchers also stated, “these findings highlight the importance of awaiting the results of ongoing, prospective, randomized, controlled studies before widespread adoption of these drugs.” 

Fred Wellman

Fred Wellman, CEO and Founder of ScoutComms, brings us his weekly review of veteran news via The Scout Report. Fred served over twenty years as an Army officer in both aviation and public affairs. Follow Fred on Twitter @ScoutComms

This entry was posted on Monday, April 27, 2020 1:01 pm

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