SITREP News Roundup: May 9th-12th, 2022

🌈LGBTQ+ News

12 May 2022

How loneliness can be debilitating for LGBTQ+ folk (Pink News) – For many, loneliness is a simply reminder of the things we’re missing out on. But when experienced for too long, it becomes a quiet, aching feeling of being alone against your will.

Why we need to start talking about how we’re truly feeling (Gay Times) – Mental health can seem like a daunting subject, especially for the LGBTQ+ community. We spoke to LGBTQ+ people to get an insight into how mental health impacts the community and how we can constructively tackle the taboos of the subject. 

‘SNL’ star Bowen Yang says LGBTQ bars and restaurants are ‘so vital and have to be protected’ (NBC Today) – Yang is hoping to shine a light on the alarming trend of permanent closures of LGBTQ bars and restaurants across the country.

Celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month With Gear From Brands That Give Back (MSN) – Here are companies that have Pride-themed gear, including sneakers, apparel, accessories and more, with charitable components that support causes that impact LGBTQ people. Check back for updates.

Sex and Gender: What’s the Difference? (Psych Central) – The terms “sex and gender’’ are often used interchangeably, but they mean different things. Here’s why the difference matters.

11 May 2022

Prepping For Pride 2022 & Beyond: Engaging A Booming LGBTQ+ Consumer Landscape (Forbes) – LGBTQ+ Pride month is a big deal for brands, possibly even a deal-breaker considering the groundswell of LGBTQ+ consumers. According to GAY TIMES analysis (using a combination IPSOS and UN Population data) it’s a group predicted to hit 1 billion globally by 2050, with Gallup’s 2022 study revealing 7.1% of Americans already identify as such (57% of whom classify themselves as bisexual). Importantly, roughly 21% of all adult Gen Z Americans now identify as LGBTQ+, indicating a distinct shift towards a post-heteronormative society, or certainly more genreless future generations.

10 May 2022

Grindr Announces Plans to Go Public With Multi-Billion Valuation (The Advocate) – Grindr is going public. The gay dating and hookup app announced it has entered into an agreement with Tiga Acquisition Corp. (TAC), a special purpose acquisition company. The two companies have agreed to merge under the name Grindr, Inc. in a deal that has valued the app at $2.1 billion.

Target Pulls ‘Silence = Death’ T-Shirt After ACT UP NY Calls Store Out (The Advocate) – Target and a sales partner, the Phluid Project, have at least temporarily ceased selling a T-shirt with the famed ACT UP “Silence = Death” message after complaints from ACT UP New York.

Skittles Go Gray (Again) With Pride Packs Designed by LGBTQ+ Artists (Out) – This year, though, Skittles’ annual Pride packs will also feature colorful art by queer artists, with proceeds going to GLAAD.

09 May 2022
Bree Fram, LTC USSF/Facebook

SPARTA announces legislative agenda & re-elects Bree Fram as president (Los Angeles Blade) – SPARTA, the nation’s leading transgender military service  organization, announced its legislative priorities for 2022 on Monday. SPARTA and other advocacy  organizations have long sought the codification of the opportunity to serve in the military  regardless of gender identity or any other category that doesn’t have any bearing on an  individual’s ability to serve.

Patricia Davies. (Caters News Agency via New York Post)

LGBTQ+ Soldiers Found a Way to Serve in the Military Long Before Public Acceptance was Achieved (SOFREP) – Throughout military history, long before the “LGBTQ+” was even a thing, members of the community were either banned from joining the service or hidden away. Soldiers, especially men, were painted as tough, brave, and everything masculine, and there was no room for anything that was not deemed “honorable.” Regardless, there were LGTBQ soldiers who braved the wars and went to protect their nations even when they were hidden, dismissed, and just plainly discriminated against. Most of them were either forced to hide their true identities or at least not talk about it with policies like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

After Roe: Here’s the GOP Plan Kill to Marriage Equality, LGBTQ Rights (The Advocate) – Barring some highly improbable miracle, marriage equality will probably not exist nationally by 2024 — possibly 2025 at the latest.

An LGBTQ+ Guide to First-Time Homebuying (Out) – A lesbian realtor offers advice to rainbow families looking to achieve the American dream.

Military/Veteran News

12 May 2022
Belton, Texas native, Maj. Christopher Allen, carries a weighted duffel bag during an alternative physical training session. (Army)

23 things veterans may carry for life (Military Times) – In the back of every veteran’s closet, you’re likely to find some old uniforms, dusty caps, a stack of medical, training, and discharge records… maybe a few ribbons or medals. But these are just a few of the typical things that separated or retired service members keep with them. Other things, they’re stuck with forever.

Army drafting abortion policy in case Roe v. Wade is overturned (Military Times) – Army officials are drafting a policy “to ensure we take care of our soldiers” seeking abortions, in case the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, according to the sergeant major of the Army.

The changing face of the VFW (Military Times) – Your local VFW is no longer the hall that hosted Grampa’s bingo night. Instead, it’s a hub of Post-9/11 and Iraq and Afghanistan veterans supporting the same mission the VFW has supported since its inception in 1899: veteran transition, support, and kinship.

Coast Guard Admiral Linda Fagan smiles as she is introduced during her nomination hearing to be commandant of the Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, Thursday, April 28, 2022, before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)

Coast Guard Admiral Becomes First Woman to Lead a US Military Branch (Military.com) – The Senate voted unanimously late Wednesday to confirm Adm. Linda Fagan as the next commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, the first woman ever to lead a military service.

VA study: Screening for thoughts of suicide can identify missed chances to save lives (VAntage Point) – In the United States, one of every 10 adults who dies by suicide is seen in an emergency department within two months before their death. Despite national guidelines for suicide screening, risk assessment and follow-up care, including those from the Joint Commission and Emergency Nurses Association, suicidal thoughts and behavior continue to go undetected in emergency departments, leading to gaps in care.

Greece to extend base access deal with US military (Military Times) – Greece is extending a bilateral military agreement with the United States for five years, with officials from the country’s center-right government arguing that enhanced alliances within NATO will help stabilize the region rattled by Russia’s war in Ukraine and tension in the eastern Mediterranean.

Culture Shift Needed to Combat Patient Safety Failures at VA, Watchdog Says (Military.com) – The murder of seven veterans at a West Virginia Department of Veterans Affairs hospital and thousands of missed diagnoses by a pathologist who was drunk on the job at a Fayetteville, Arkansas, facility are signs that the Veterans Health Administration, or VHA, has significant leadership and cultural problems, according to the VA’s top watchdog.

Study shows two career assessment screenings effective for veterans, civilians (Phys.org) – While many services are in place to help address the physical and mental obstacles, little research has been performed on measures designed to help in the educational and career paths. A new study from the University of Kansas has found two measures designed to help civilian students are also effective for veterans.

11 May 2022

White House Plans to Blunt Medical Debts for Veterans and Home Borrowers (Bloomberg) – Vice President Kamala Harris announced new steps designed to reduce the cost of federal home loans for Americans saddled with medical debt and make it easier for veterans to have health care bills forgiven during an event Monday at the White House.

10 May 2022

Bill would mandate honorable discharge for all troops who refuse COVID vaccine mandate (Military Times) – Defense officials would be required to grant honorable dismissals to nearly all troops who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine and grant waivers to troops with “natural immunity” to the virus under new legislation introduced by Republican senators on Tuesday.

Preventing stroke: Many are at risk and don’t know it (VAntage Point) – Heart disease and stroke are an epidemic in the U.S. Many don’t realize that they are at high risk for heart attack or stroke. The good news is that many of the major risk factors for these problems can be prevented or controlled. Getting your blood pressure and cholesterol checked are important first steps to reduce your risk.

Federal Veteran Unemployment Stats ‘Inaccurate,’ New Report Says (Military.com) – With the United States experiencing historically low unemployment rates, along with an equally historic labor shortage, it would be natural to draw the conclusion that veteran unemployment is a thing of the past. The Call of Duty Endowment, the world’s largest private funder of veteran employment, says nothing could be further from the truth.

Study investigates brain connectivity patterns at rest in veterans with chronic pain and trauma (News-Medical.net) – A new study is the first to investigate brain connectivity patterns at rest in veterans with both chronic pain and trauma, finding three unique brain subtypes potentially indicating high, medium, and low susceptibility to pain and trauma symptoms. The findings provide an objective measurement of pain and trauma susceptibility and could pave the way for personalized treatments and new therapies based on neural connectivity patterns.

09 May 2022

Errors in DoD’s new electronic health care records system raise concerns among providers (Military Times) – Information about patients’ health care isn’t always accurate or complete in the Defense Department’s new electronic records system, according to a survey of defense health care providers conducted by the Inspector General’s Office.

Air Force Will End Program That Allowed Some Airmen to Choose Their Next Duty Station (Military.com) – The Air Force’s “base of preference program” will end next month, delivering a blow to career enlisted airmen and their families who were trying to plan where they would be stationed stateside. 

Racial disparities observed in prostate cancer incidence, outcomes among veterans (Healio News) – Black veterans had a nearly twofold higher incidence of both localized prostate cancer and de novo metastatic disease compared with white veterans, according to a nationwide, retrospective cohort study published in JAMA Network Open.

5 Steps to Start You Down the Path to Meaningful Work After the Military (Military.com) – “What I’m really looking for is meaningful work,” one of my veteran clients told me. “When I say this to people, I’ve been told that whatever I do, it will never be as meaningful as the military. I’m OK with that. But how do you find meaningful work after the military?”

SITREP News Roundup: May 2nd-6th, 2022

Friday, May 6th

Army Pressed to Fix Dilapidated Base Housing by Senators (Military.com) – The Army must put more money and effort into repairing poorly maintained and substandard base housing for military service members and their families, U.S. senators demanded Thursday, amid persistent reports that mold and other issues threaten troops’ health.

This Federal Program Now Makes Many Active-Duty, Vets and Survivors Eligible for Free or Discounted Internet (Military.com) – An updated program from the federal government offers free or discounted internet to many Americans, including many active duty families, veterans and their survivors.

VA supports parents and expecting mothers across America (VAntage Point) – Whether you are a mom, want to be a mom, or are about to become a mom, VA supports you on Mother’s Day and every day. No matter where you are in your journey, we provide health care every step of the way to and through motherhood.

Veterans unemployment under 3% for second consecutive month (Military Times) – Veterans unemployment remained below 3% for the second consecutive month in April, offering more evidence that the American job market is nearing full recovery from the two-year coronavirus pandemic.

Thursday, May 5th

How to check in with your smartphone for some VA appointments (Department of Veterans Affairs) – At some VA health care facilities, you can now check in for appointments with your smartphone. More facilities will offer this option in the future. You can still always check in for an appointment with a staff member at all facilities. Read this page to learn how to check in with your smartphone when this option is available.

Sexual health advocates are seeking millions of dollars in the state budget this year. Photo: Courtesy CA Assembly

🌈Millions sought from CA, SF for sexual health services (Bay Area Reporter) – With budget negotiations set to heat up in the coming weeks, advocates for sexual health services are seeking millions of dollars from California and San Francisco officials this spring. Their demands come as both the city and state are currently flush with cash as the economy continues to improve as the COVID pandemic ebbs.

🌈Judge who overturned California’s Prop. 8 blasts draft Roe v. Wade opinion: ‘It makes the justices look like politicians’ (San Francisco Chronicle) – Retired Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has harsh words to describe the Supreme Court’s leaked draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade: “It’s just not a very impressive piece of work.”

Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images

🌈The Repeal of Roe v. Wade Is a Direct Threat to Gay Marriage (Vice) – Marriage equality plaintiff Jim Obergefell tells VICE that LGBTQ rights could be next if the Supreme Court repeals Roe.

Thousands of Smartphones Purchased by VA Went Unused (Military.com)The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs wasted nearly $2 million when most of the smartphones bought during the pandemic for homeless veterans went unused, according to an inspector general’s report.

Air Force to end preferred basing for enlisted as it changes how airmen find new jobs (militarytimes.com) (Military Times) – The Air Force this month will suspend its 4-year-old “base of preference” program for airmen who are on at least their second enlistment contract, saying it fails to send most applicants to the installations they want.

🌈USDA Promotes Program Access, Combats Discrimination Against LGBTQI+ Community (USDA/Food & Nutrition Service) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced today that it will interpret the prohibition on discrimination based on sex found in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and in the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, as amended, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Food Stamp Program (7 USC § 2011 et seq.), to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA and FNS are issuing this interpretation to help ensure its programs are open, accessible and help promote food and nutrition security, regardless of demographics.

Alexis Rangel and D. Ojeda protest in front of the Supreme Court. D. Ojeda

🌈How the reversal of Roe v. Wade could impact the transgender community (NPR) – Activists and supporters of the LGBTQ community say any decision to overturn Roe v. Wade could have significant consequences on vulnerable groups if privacy-related rights like access to contraception or gender-affirming care are threatened.

After Roe: 9 legal experts on what rights the Supreme Court might target next (Vox) – Does Justice Alito’s draft opinion hint at future rollbacks on marriage equality, birth control, and other issues?

VBA expands automated claims system (The American Legion) – The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) has expanded its pilot program focusing on automated processes using certain medical data. The program being run by the newly created Office of Automated Benefit Delivery was launched in December 2021 and is designed to eliminate unnecessary examinations, streamline workflows and reduce manual components of the claims process.

Predicting Homelessness Among U.S. Army Soldiers No Longer on Active Duty (American Journal of Preventive Medicine) – The ability to predict and prevent homelessness has been an elusive goal. The purpose of this study was to develop a prediction model that identified U.S. Army soldiers at high risk of becoming homeless after transitioning to civilian life based on information available before the time of this transition.

Wednesday, May 4th

🌈‘It’s already having an impact’: LGBTQ people fear abortion rights reversal (NBC News) – Some LGBTQ people fear the reversal of abortion rights protections would have far-reaching impacts — both on their health and other rights such as marriage equality.

A supporter of gay marriage waves a flag in front of the Supreme Court Building June 25, 2015. Mark Wilson / Getty Images file

VA hired 59,000 employees this year, but still struggles with workforce shortages (Federal News Network) – The Department of Veterans Affairs hired thousands of health care employees through a streamlined hiring process since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency, however, is now limited to using the ongoing hiring authority for a small subsection of its hires, and is calling on Congress to make some of these hiring flexibilities permanent.

COVID-19 and Veteran’s welfare: Veterans Resource Center moves into new facility (Sac City Express) – City College’s Veterans Resource Center moved into a new facility on campus this semester, allowing it to expand its services and better help student veterans.

🌈Roe leak stokes fears that LGBTQ rights are now at heightened risk (Washington Blade) – Fears that same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ rights could be on the chopping block are at a new high after a leaked draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that would explicitly overturn precedent in Roe. v. Wade, although the degree of perceived danger differs among legal observers.

VA Disqualifies Vets from Caregiver Program Despite Promised Pause amid Review (Military.com) – VA officials announced March 22 that the department would halt dismissals from the program until they could review changes made to eligibility criteria in 2020. The pause resulted from an outcry over what appeared to be an inordinate number of discharges from the initiative, known as the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.

Audit Finds Waste in VA Purchases of Mobile Devices for Veterans (FEDweek) – An inspector general audit has identified waste in a program designed to provide homeless veterans with mobile devices they could use for telehealth – as many of the devices sat for months in storage as their data plans expired.

VA’s caregiver review nearly complete, but still no timeline for future program changes (Military Times) – Veterans Affairs officials said they are nearly finished with their review of families receiving caregiver stipends, but still do not have any timeline for when new eligibility criteria for the program will be unveiled.

VA Ramps Up Osseintegration Program for Amputee Veterans (Amplitude Magazine) – In January 2022, the VA began offering OI to veterans with above-knee amputations. Osseointegration surgery and rehabilitation care is now available at several VA Amputation System of Care specialty locations across the country.

Join VA and the White House today for a cancer cabinet community conversation (VAntage Point) – Today, VA health leaders, along with representatives from private and public health care organizations, will host a Cancer Cabinet Community Conversation as part of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative. VA, one of several government organizations to hold a virtual roundtable that day, will focus on the agency’s lung precision oncology program to advance cancer treatment.

Appeals: Informal conference offers clarity, feedback in higher-level decision reviews (VAntage Point) – Veterans seeking a higher-level review (HLR) of a benefits claim decision have a powerful tool to communicate directly with a higher-level reviewer. It’s called an informal conference.

Tuesday, May 3rd

New CalVet System Streamlines Prescriptions (Techwire) – The California Department of Veterans Affairs’ e-Prescribe functionality is the first module of a larger modernization initiative set for a phased rollout later this year.

Draft Roe v. Wade ruling sends panic through LGBTQ community: ‘They’re coming for us next’ (San Francisco Chronicle) – Following the likely overturn of Roe v. Wade, many question whether rulings protecting same-sex marriage and consensual sexual acts could be targeted next.

The original plaintiffs in the Proposition 8 case, John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney, await a Supreme Court ruling at City Hall on in San Francisco on June 26, 2013. The court later struck down California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage, and the Defense of Marriage Act. Michael Macor/The Chronicle

What Overturning Roe v. Wade Could Mean for Marriage Equality (The Advocate) – Legal principles tie the two together, causing LGBTQ+ rights advocates to question if same-sex marriage might be an eventual target if Roe v. Wade is indeed overturned.

As a veteran that went to Ukraine, here’s what I saw (Military Times) – As someone who dreamt of growing up to be a journalist and spent their childhood watching their parents deploy to Africa and the Middle East and work with special forces at home in Virginia, being a war correspondent has been my goal for as long as I can remember. Adding to that, I also served for five years in the Marine Corps as a Middle Eastern Cryptologic Linguist, deploying once with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit in 2017.

Vets at schools with unusual calendars may be losing out on GI Bill money (Military Times) – Students attending classes at colleges with non-traditional semesters could lose out on thousands of dollars in GI Bill payments without fixes to how Veterans Affairs processes their education benefits, the department’s inspector general cautioned on Tuesday.

Carlos McKnight, of Washington, waves a flag in support of same-sex marriage outside of the Supreme Court on June 26, 2015. Jacquelyn Martin / AP file

🌈As high court signals Roe v. Wade reversal, states eye same-sex marriage protections (NBC News) – Some state lawmakers have taken steps in recent weeks to protect same-sex marriage in the event the high court reverses its landmark 2015 decision.

🌈’Human Rights Crisis’: Legal Experts Say Bombshell SCOTUS Abortion Opinion Will Be ‘Foundation for Overturning LGBT Rights’ (The New Civil Rights Movement) – Legal experts are responding to the bombshell news from Politico, which reports the U.S. Supreme Court has voted to fully overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that found a right to abortion in the U.S. Constitution. The Court has not released its opinion.

🌈LGBTQ Victory Fund Statement on Roe v. Wade (Victory Fund) – Today LGBTQ Victory Fund President & CEO Mayor Annise Parker released a statement on Roe v. Wade.

U.S. Space Force Specialist 3 Jesus Lopez, 325th Communications Squadron cybersecurity technician, looks at a computer screen at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Jan. 11, 2022. (Airman 1st Class Tiffany Price/U.S. Air Force photo)

‘Space Force’ Is Now Official to the VA, but Not Everyone Is on the Same Page (Military.com) – The Department of Veterans Affairs has officially recognized the Space Force as a branch of the military, nearly 2½ years after the service was established.

What you should know about advance care planning (VAntage Point) – Different people want different things when it comes to their health care. Advance care planning ensures that your loved ones and your health care team know what’s important to you and what your preferences are for treatment now and treatment in the future.

Navy Federal Releases Spotlight on VA Loans Report, Unveiling Misconceptions and Myths About VA Loans (Business Wire) – Navy Federal Credit Union today released its first-ever Spotlight on VA Loans report —a comprehensive look at servicemembers’ understanding of, and opinions about, VA home loans and how they use them. VA loans are designed to make the dream of homeownership more attainable for military families, but the report revealed widespread misconceptions about these mortgages, which often prevent servicemembers and their families from taking full advantage of their hard-earned benefits.

VA secretary urges EHR rollout to continue, but ‘very concerned’ about system outages (Federal News Network) – The Department of Veterans Affairs’ new Electronic Health Record (EHR) is now running at a third location, although lawmakers remain concerned about future rollouts.

Funeral Homes Are Looking to Veterans to Care for the Living (Military.com) – As the old saying goes, the only two constants in life are death and taxes. The government will ensure taxes keep being collected, no doubt. Caring for the dead, however, is left to the private sector — a sector that is running out of skilled workers.

Monday, May 2nd

Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights, draft opinion shows (Politico) – The Supreme Court has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, according to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito circulated inside the court and obtained by POLITICO.

Abortion rights supporters and anti-abortion demonstrators rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 1, 2021. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

VA Downplays Its Role at the Border Amid Backlash, But Defends Potential Deployments (Government Executive) – The Veterans Affairs Department has no immediate plans to send personnel to the U.S.-Mexico border in anticipation of an uptick of migrants arriving there, though it is defending its potential role amid backlash from Republican lawmakers. 

Veterans eligible for discounts on travel, hotel rates (VAntage Point) – From May 23-30, 2022, AmericanForcesTravel.com is offering discounted travel bookings, where eligible Veterans will find deep discounts on hotel rates in honor of Memorial Day.

🌈Amazon will offer $4,000 per year to US employees who need to travel to different states for medical procedures, including abortion and transgender care (Yahoo! News) – Amazon will cover up to $4,000 per year in travel costs for US employees seeking non-life threatening medical treatments, including elective abortion.

Rachel Levine said: ‘Today, many of our fellow human beings across the country call for our attention because they’re being attacked.’ Photograph: Michael Mayhew/Sportsphoto/Allstar

🌈America’s top-ranked trans official condemns attacks on LGBTQ+ youth (The Guardian) – Rachel Levine says LGBTQ Americans killing themselves ‘at a rate that should shock our conscience’

Non-white Americans at higher risk for dementia, veterans study shows (Seniors Matter) – The new study, published earlier this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed the risk of dementia was almost twice as high for black and Hispanic veterans as it was for white veterans. The study tracked the outcomes of almost two million Americans receiving care from the Veterans Health Administration over a decade, with about 13% of the study’s participants diagnosed with dementia.

🌈Study shows gender-affirming care improves mental health (ABC 7 Denver) – According to a report from the CDC, more than one-third of transgender high school students attempt suicide in a given year. A separate report published on JAMA Network shows that gender-affirming care improves mental health outcomes in transgender and nonbinary youths. Multiple doctors are trying to educate the public to fully understand what gender-affirming care is, and its impact on mental wellness.

VA looks to fill key medical posts, starting with the department’s top health care job (Military Times) – The Department of Veterans Affairs may finally fill its top health care post later this month, which could lead to hiring even more doctors and nurses in the months to come.

Medical workers in the COVID-19 ward of the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare system campus in West Roxbury, Mass., prepare for work on Jan. 11. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

For Military Appreciation Month, Eyemart Express Extends Special Offers to Military Personnel, Veterans, and Their Families (PR Newswire) – May is Military Appreciation Month, a time to honor veterans, uniformed service members, and their families. To mark the occasion, national optical retailer Eyemart Express is offering exclusive 20% discounts to the men and women who serve our country. The offer extends to veterans and military families.

VA’s National Oncology Program: Providing Equitable Cancer Care for Veterans (VAntage Point) – What is health equity, and what does equitable cancer care mean for Veterans at VA?

How Veterans Can Get Free Truck Driver Training and Commercial Driving License (Military.com) – Hiring Our Heroes, an initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, is stepping in to help put U.S. military veterans in those trucks with its Drive for 500 campaign.

🌈Anti-LGBTQ laws inspire many LGBTQ people to seek public office (NPR) – The avalanche of anti-LGBTQ laws before state legislatures this year is inspiring LGBTQ candidates to seek office. This is even happening in smaller cities and rural parts of the U.S.

VA NorCal Offering 2nd Vaccine Booster Doses to Specific Populations

Update 04/12/2022

VA NorCal will continue to offer initial and booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Veterans, spouses, caregivers and CHAMPVA recipients.

Second boosters are now available for those who received any primary series vaccine(s) plus a booster AND are:

  • 50 years of age or older and your first booster dose was at least 4 months ago.
  • Moderate to severely immune compromised and your first booster dose was at least 4 months ago (for some people, this will be a 5th dose).
  • 4 months out from a booster dose and had Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine for both your initial vaccine and your booster.

How to get your booster:
If Veterans, spouses, caregivers or CHAMPVA recipients wish to receive COVID-19 vaccine initial or booster doses at VA NorCal, we highly recommend scheduling an appointment by calling 800-382-8387, press #4, #5, or stay on the line to schedule an appointment.

For added convenience you can also ask for the vaccine during an upcoming Primary Care appointment.

COVID-19 VACCINE CLINIC HOURS:

  • EAST BAY
    • Martinez COVID Vaccine: Monday and Tuesday, 0900-1200 and 1300-1500
    • Fairfield COVID Vaccine: Wednesday, 1100-1500
    • Mare Island COVID Vaccine: Tuesday, 1100-1500
  • SAC VALLEY
    • Mather COVID Vaccine: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 0800-1200 and 1300-1500
    • Auburn COVID Vaccine: Tuesday and Thursday, 0930-1130 and 1300-1500
    • McClellan COVID Vaccine: Tuesday and Thursday, 0900-1200 and 1300-1500
    • YUBA COVID Vaccine: Tuesday, 1130-1430
  • NORTH STATE
    • Redding COVID Vaccine: Thursday, 1000-1400
    • Chico COVID Vaccine: Tuesday and Thursday, 1200-1500
    • Yreka COVID Vaccine: Thursdays, 1200-1400

You are best protected when you are up to date on COVID-19 vaccines! We welcome you and your eligible loved ones to visit us.

Update 10/05/2021

On Sept. 24, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified and recommended several groups of people who should get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster. They Include:

Continue reading “VA NorCal Offering 2nd Vaccine Booster Doses to Specific Populations”

VA NorCal Now Offering COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters

Update 10/05/2021

On Sept. 24, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified and recommended several groups of people who should get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster. They Include:

  • Individuals who should get a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster dose:
    • People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings who received a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 primary vaccine series at least six months ago
    • People 50 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions who received a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 primary vaccine series at least six months ago   
  • Individuals who may opt to get a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster dose, based on their individual benefits and risks, including:
    • People 18 to 49 years old with underlying medical conditions who received a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 primary vaccine series at least six months ago
    • People 18 to 64 years old who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of their occupational or institutional setting who received a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 primary vaccine series at least six months ago

We will offer the Pfizer-BioNTech booster vaccines to all Veterans, spouses, caregivers, CHAMPVA recipients under the authority of the SAVE LIVES Act and VA employees.

Currently, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been authorized as a booster shot. FDA and CDC continue to review data to determine whether and when a booster might be recommended for people who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccines. 

How do I schedule my COVID Vaccine Booster?

You can request an appointment at your nearest VA facility for your booster shot whether you received your initial series at VA or outside of VA. Please note that there must be a minimum interval of six months between the second dose of your initial series and your booster dose. Please make sure to bring your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card! This is particularly important if your initial series was given outside of VA. To ensure you can receive a booster dose as quickly as possible and sufficient supply is available, we highly recommend scheduling an appointment. Walk-in visits are welcome while supplies last.

  • By Appointment: Call 1-800-382-8387, option 8. The call center is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., excluding federal holidays, Monday through Friday. Veterans enrolled in VA health care can also request an appointment by

sending a Secure Message to “COVID VACCINE SCHEDULING – NCHCS” in My HealtheVet

  • Walk-in: With the exception of the Yreka VA Clinic, first, second, third doses; boosters; and flu shots are available on a walk-in basis during the following hours:
  • Sacramento VA Medical Center Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines offered on Thursdays. Building 650, first-floor auditorium
  • Martinez VA Medical Center Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 3:15 p.m. Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines offered on Thursdays. Building AB-6
  • Chico VA Clinic Monday – Friday, 12 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines offered on Thursdays.
  • Fairfield VA Clinic Tuesday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines offered on Thursdays.
  • Mare Island VA Clinic Tuesday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines offered on Thursdays.
  • McClellan VA Clinic Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines offered on Thursdays.
  • Oakland VA Clinic Tuesdays only 9 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. (Moderna for first, second, third doses only) 1 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. (Pfizer-BioNTech)
  • Redding VA Clinic Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines offered on Thursdays.
  • Sierra Foothills VA Clinic – Auburn Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines offered on Thursdays.
  • Yreka VA Clinic Thursday, 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. (Appointment only) Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines offered.
  • Yuba VA Clinic Tuesday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines offered on Thursdays.

Who can get a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine at VA?

A third dose of COVID-19 Vaccine is available to patients who received both doses of either the Pfizer OR Moderna vaccine and have an immunocompromised medical condition. Individuals should contact their care team if they have any questions.

What if I receive my booster shot or third dose outside of VA?

If a Veteran decides to receive their booster shot or third dose outside of VA, they are encouraged to share this information with their VA care team. 

We also continue to encourage all Veterans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible if they have not done so already. We offer first and second dose COVID-19 vaccinations at all VA NorCal locations. For more info, visit https://www.va.gov/northern-california-health-care/programs/covid-19-vaccines/.

Everyone entering our facilities is screened and face masks are mandatory. 

Veterans should check-in for scheduled appointments from the safety of their vehicle by sending the word “here” to 53079. This will notify your care team that you are at the facility waiting to be called into your appointment. You must use a mobile phone that is on file in your electronic health record.

Update 06/15/2021

Last week, VA Northern California Health Care System (VANCHCS) announced it will begin offering Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccinations to adolescents ages 12 to 17, who are caregivers of Veterans or are CHAMPVA beneficiaries under the SAVE LIVES Act, on June 10 at the Sacramento VA Medical Center and Martinez VA Outpatient Clinic.

COVID-19 vaccines will be available to Veteran caregivers and those who qualify as beneficiaries under VA’s Civilian Health and Medical Program. The expansion is in line with recent recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration. Previously, VA was only vaccinating adults age 18 and older.

“VA NorCal is honored to expand its offering of the COVID-19 vaccine to the adolescents who care for Veterans under this new expanded authority,” said David Stockwell, VANCHCS Director. “We look forward to helping our communities move forward in beating this pandemic.”

When receiving COVID-19 vaccinations, adolescents must have a parent or legal guardian present. To learn about vaccine clinic hours or how to schedule an appointment, please visit www.northerncalifornia.va.gov/services/covid-19-vaccines.asp or call 1-800-382-8387 and select option 8.

UPDATE 05/12/2021

On 05/10/2021, the VA announced it would be offering COVID-19 vaccinations on a walk-in basis to eligible Veterans, spouses, and caregivers.

Acting VA Under Secretary for Health Richard Stone, M.D., said, “VA encourages those who wish to get their COVID-19 vaccine without an appointment to check the walk-in hours and requirements at their local facility. Individuals taking advantage of walk-in vaccinations may need to wait for the vaccine to be prepared and will be screened when entering the facility.”

VA Northern California has updated it’s vaccine page with walk-in hours for all facilities, click here to see more.

Additionally, starting on 05/13/2021, VA NorCal will begin offering the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine every Thursday at all sites. With the exception of the Yreka VA Clinic, no appointment is needed; for Yreka, call (530) 841-8500.

Check out the VA NorCal COVID-19 Vaccine page for more information.

UPDATE 04/06/2021

VA NorCal expanding COVID-19 vaccinations to all Veterans, caregivers and spouses under SAVE LIVES Act

The VA Northern California Health Care System (VANCHCS) announced today it is now providing COVID-19 vaccinations to anyone who served in the military, and their caregivers and spouses, and some other beneficiaries under the authority granted by the SAVE LIVES Act, signed by President Joe Biden March 24, 2021. This includes:

  • All Veterans
  • Spouses and surviving spouses of Veterans
  • Caregivers of Veterans. For COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, we define a caregiver as a family member or friend who provides care to a Veteran. Caregivers may help a Veteran with personal needs like feeding, bathing, or dressing. They may also help a Veteran with tasks like shopping or transportation.
  • Recipients of Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) benefits.

The expanded authority depends on readily available COVID-19 vaccine supply and requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to continue to prioritize Veterans enrolled in VA care.

For more information on VA NorCal’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts, please visit www.northerncalifornia.va.gov/services/covid-19-vaccines.asp.

Read more: https://www.northerncalifornia.va.gov/NORTHERNCALIFORNIA/features/save_lives_act.asp

UPDATE 03/24/2021

Click photo for Facebook event page on the vaccine drive-up.

VA Northern California Health Care System is holding a drive-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 27, 2021 at the Sacramento VA Medical Center, Mather, CA. The address is 10535 Hospital Way, Mather, CA 95655.

Enrolled Veterans who already receive their care at VA, regardless of age, and their registered caregivers will be able to receive a free COVID-19 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine without leaving their vehicles. Veterans will also be scheduled to return 21 days later to receive a second dose of the vaccine during this event.

Appointments are required.

Enrolled Veterans and registered caregivers can request an appointment by:

  • Sending a Secure Message in My HealtheVet to COVID VACCINE SCHEDULING – NCHCS
  • Calling 1-800-382-8387 and selecting option 8. The VANCHCS call center is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., excluding federal holidays, Monday through Friday.

Caregivers must be registered in the VA Caregiver Support Program and will be verified by the scheduler when calling to make an appointment.

For more information on COVID-19 vaccines at the VANCHCS, please visit https://www.northerncalifornia.va.gov/services/covid-19-vaccines.asp.

Update (03/09/2021)

The VA Northern California Health Care System is now offering COVID-19 vaccines to all enrolled Veterans who already receive their care at VA, regardless of age, and their registered caregivers.

COVID-19 vaccinations are available by appointment only at any of our vaccine clinics in Mather, Martinez, Auburn, Chico, Fairfield, Mare Island, McClellan, Oakland, Redding, Yreka and Yuba City. 

Enrolled Veterans and registered caregivers can request an appointment by:

  • sending a Secure Message in My HealtheVet to COVID VACCINE SCHEDULING – NCHCS
  • calling 1-800-382-8387 and selecting option 8. The call center is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., excluding federal holidays, Monday through Friday.

Caregivers must be registered in the VA Caregiver Support Program and will be verified by the scheduler when calling to make an appointment.

For the safety of our staff and Veterans, anyone without an appointment will not be able to access our campuses.

Bookmark our COVID-19 vaccines page to stay updated on our vaccine clinics. You can also sign-up for the VA’s “Keep Me Informed” tool to express your interest in getting the vaccine and receive updates about the VA’s vaccine efforts.

Not enrolled in VA health care? Click here to find out if you’re eligible and how to apply for VA health care. Once enrolled, you can request an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine. You can also call our toll-free hotline at 877-222-8387, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. This hotline is the fastest way to be enrolled in VA care.

UPDATE (03/02/2021)

The VA has opened up vaccinations to the following Veterans:

  • Age 55 & older
  • Essential workers regardless of age; you may be asked to show proof of essential work status)
    • Firefighters
    • Police officers
    • Corrections officers
    • Food & agriculture
    • U.S. Postal Service (USPS)
    • Manufacturing
    • Grocery stores
    • Public transit
    • Educational sector including teachers, support staff, and daycare
    • Transportation & logistics
    • Food service
    • Housing construction & finance
    • Information technology
    • Comunications
    • Energy
    • Law
    • Media
    • Public safety
    • Public health
  • On hemodialysis or chemotherapy
  • Organ transplant recipients
  • With diagnosis of ALS
  • Homeless
  • Residing in VA Centers for Rehabilitation & Extended Care (CRECs)

COVID-19 vaccinations are available at VANCHCS by appointment only. Veterans who receive their care at VA and fall in one of the groups listed above are being contacted and offered an appointment to receive a vaccine. If Veterans have not been contacted, they can send a My HealtheVet Secure Message to COVID VACCINE SCHEDULING – NCHCS or call 1-800-382-8387, select option 8, to request an appointment.

If you’re a Veteran who is not enrolled in VA health care, click here to find out if you’re eligible and how to apply for VA health care. Once enrolled, you can request an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine. 

UPDATE (02/01/2021)

VA’s goal is to offer the vaccine to all eligible Veterans who choose to be vaccinated. Following CDC guidance, we are currently offering vaccines to some of our highest-risk patients, including Veterans:

  • residing in our Center for Rehabilitation and Extended Care
  • age 65 and older
  • on hemodialysis or chemotherapy
  • organ transplant recipients
  • with diagnosis of ALS
  • who are homeless.

Currently, COVID-19 vaccinations are available by-appointment only. Veterans who receive their care at VA and fall in the one of the criteria listed above are being contacted and offered an appointment to receive a vaccine. If you’re a Veteran who is not enrolled in VA health care, click here to find out if you’re eligible and how to apply for VA health care. Once enrolled, you can request an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Eligible Veterans may contact us for an appointment via one of two methods:

Option One:

COVID Vaccine Secure Message  

  • Login to your My HealtheVet account: myhealth.va.govNote: you need a Premium account to access the Secure Messaging feature.​
  • On your home page, select the icon labeled “Messages.” ​
  • Select the Green icon labeled “Compose a Message.” ​
  • From here, filter the drop-down menu and select the team titled:​
    • COVID VACCINE SCHEDULING – NCHCS.
    • You can request an appointment day and time to receive your vaccination.
    • A scheduler will respond with your appointment confirmation and or other availability.

Option Two:

Contact our Call Center at 1-800-382-8387 and select option 8. Our call center is open Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.

If you’re a Veteran who already receives care at VA and are not currently eligible to receive a vaccine, please do NOT call VANCHCS to inquire about vaccinations. Our operators and call centers are doing their best to schedule eligible Veterans and are being overwhelmed with calls about the vaccine. We request your patience and understanding as we work our way through the high-risk priority groups first.

In the meantime, please check for COVID-19 vaccination information updates on our website. You may also stay informed or express your interest in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/stay-informed.


UPDATE (01/27/2021)

We understand you may have questions about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at the VA Northern California Health Care System (VANCHCS). VANCHCS received its initial Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shipment in late December and has been working non-stop to vaccinate health care providers and key operations staff to ensure uninterrupted service to our Veterans.

VA’s goal is to offer the vaccine to all eligible Veterans who choose to be vaccinated. Following CDC guidance, we are currently offering vaccines to some of our highest-risk patients, including Veterans:

  • Residing in our Center for Rehabilitation & Extended Care
  • Age 65 & older
  • On hemodialysis or chemotherapy
  • Organ transplant recipients
  • With diagnosis of ALS
  • Who are homeless.

Currently, COVID-19 vaccinations are available by appointment only. Veterans who already receive their care at VA and fall in the one of the criteria listed above are being contacted and offered an appointment to receive a vaccine.

Eligible Veterans may contact us for an appointment via one of two methods:

Option One:  COVID Vaccine Secure Message

  • Login to your My HealtheVet account: myhealth.va.govNote: you need a Premium account to access the Secure Messaging feature.
  • On your home page, select the icon labeled “Messages.” 
  • Select the Green icon labeled “Compose a Message.” 
  • From here, filter the drop-down menu and select the team titled:
  • COVID VACCINE SCHEDULING – NCHCS.
  • You can request an appointment day and time to receive your vaccination.
  • A scheduler will respond with your appointment confirmation and or other availability.

Option Two: Contact our Call Center at 1-800-382-8387 and select option 8. Our call center is open Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.

If you’re a Veteran who already receives care at VA and are not currently eligible to receive a vaccine, please do NOT call VANCHCS to inquire about vaccinations. Our operators and call centers are doing their best to schedule eligible Veterans and are being overwhelmed with calls about the vaccine. We request your patience and understanding as we work our way through the high-risk priority groups first.

In the meantime, please check for COVID-19 vaccination information updates on our website. You may also sign up for updates on the COVID-19 and express your in receiving one at www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/stay-informed

Vaccine Access Opened to Veterans’ Families, Spouses

WASHINGTON, D.C — Today, President Joe Biden signed bipartisan legislation into law expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to veterans and their families under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), following efforts from House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs leaders Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Ranking Member Mike Bost (R-Ill.), Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). 

The Strengthening and Amplifying Vaccination Efforts to Locally Immunize all Veterans and Every Spouse Act (SAVE LIVES Act) allows VA to provide COVID-19 vaccination services to all veterans, veteran spouses, caregivers, and Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) recipients to the extent that such vaccines are available. The new law also urges the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to adjust VA’s vaccine allocation based on this increased eligibility pool, as much as the supply chain allows. This legislation builds upon the VA VACCINE Act, legislation led by Chairman Takano and Ranking Member Bost.

“Today, President Biden signed our vital legislation into law, ensuring that VA has the authority to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all veterans, caregivers, and veteran spouses who walk through its doors,” said Chairman Takano. “VA has proven itself as one of our country’s most effective vaccinators, but it’s clear VA needed additional authority to continue leading the effort to get as many shots into arms as possible. I’m grateful that Chairman Tester, Ranking Member Bost, and Ranking Member Moran joined me in quickly passing legislation to make sure that as vaccine supply increases, VA will be able to ramp up its vaccination efforts even more. No veteran should be turned away from getting a vaccine at VA—after today, that doesn’t need to be a concern. I know this is a heavy lift, but the strength of VA’s internal healthcare delivery system and the Department’s successful role in national vaccination efforts make this expansion possible. I look forward to working with VA to implement the SAVE LIVES Act successfully when vaccine supply increases.”

“I hope every veteran and their loved ones will get vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Ranking Member Bost. “This bill will give them, their spouses, and their caregivers that chance. I am proud of the work Chairman Takano, Chairman Tester, Ranking Member Moran and I did to get it across the finish line and am grateful the President signed it into law today. This gets us one step closer to normal and is a light at the end of the tunnel for millions of veterans and their families.”

“This new law expands options for where veterans and their families can receive the COVID-19 vaccine, ensuring that every veteran, spouse, and caregiver will have access to the protection they need from VA,” said Chairman Tester. “This bipartisan bill follows through on our shared goal of getting more shots into the arms of as many veterans as possible, and I thank Senators Moran, Boozman, Blumenthal, and our House colleagues for helping me in our push to put this pandemic behind us and move our country forward.”

“Military service is family service, and that is why the VA and this committee aim to care for both veterans and their families,” said Ranking Member Moran. “I am grateful the President acted quickly to sign this legislation into law to make certain the VA has the freedom to vaccinate veteran spouses, non-enrolled veterans, caregivers, overseas veterans and others with excess COVID-19 vaccine supply. While the VA will continue to prioritize vaccinating VHA enrolled veterans with its allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine, this legislation will help further protect our veterans and their families.”

Veterans Service Organizations applauded the President’s signing of the SAVE LIVES Act and highlighted the law’s immense impact on veterans and their families amid the pandemic. 

“VVA Applauds the swift passage of the SAVES LIVES Actsaid Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) National President John Rowan. “Vietnam veterans are vulnerable—most of us are in our 70’s, and our health has been compromised due to our military service and exposures to Agent Orange and other toxicants. The vaccine saves lives, and the more people we get vaccinated, the sooner our country will be back to normal.”

“COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on all American including veterans and their families,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars National Legislative Director Pat Murray. “The end may be near, but we will not come out of this until everybody possible has vaccinations. Expanding VA’s authority to vaccinate all veterans, caregivers, and spouses will help get us to herd immunity and hopefully eliminate this deadly disease.”

“IAVA strongly supports the SAVE LIVES Act, which will expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all veterans, caregivers and spouses at the VA,” said Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) CEO Jeremy Butler. “The goal should be to provide access to as many veterans and family members as possible to ensure the safety and health of the veteran community, getting us one step closer to ending this pandemic.”

“MOAA is grateful both the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs recognize the importance of getting veterans, their spouses and caregivers, and eligible CHAMPVA spouses of veterans permanently and totally disabled or those who have died from service-connected disabilities vaccinated as soon as possible,” said MOAA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret). “Congress saw the immediate need and galvanized its members to pass and enact the SAVE LIVES Act to provide this life-saving COVID-19 vaccine to our veteran community. MOAA is please the legislation prioritizes veterans receiving VA health care and accompanying caregivers for the vaccination services first. We look forward to working with VA and Congress to implement and communicate the vaccination plan to our members and the veteran community.”   

“The SAVE LIVES Act is a critical step forward for the American people in our work to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, return our veterans to the workplace, and regain cultural normalcy,” said the Veterans Education Project Legislative Director Donald Franklin. “This legislation will save veteran lives and protect their families, while promoting veteran employment and education opportunities.”

“The Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs (NOVA) applauds Chairman Tester and Ranking Member Moran for their hard work in getting the SAVES LIVES Act passed quickly,” said NOVA President Kelly Skinner. “As nurses, we are encouraged that this legislation will open the door to allow all veterans, caregivers and others to receive a vaccine at VA facilities nationwide. We believe this is critical in helping all of us to protect each other and our communities.”

The SAVE LIVES Act, originally based on Chairman Takano’s VA VACCINE Act Of 2021, expands VA’s authority to provide vaccines to:

  • Veterans who are not eligible for enrollment in VA’s health care system, including veterans without compensable service-connected disabilities and veterans who have incomes above a certain threshold;
  • Caregivers of veterans who are enrolled in various VA home-based and long-term care programs;
  • Spouses of veterans; and
  • CHAMPVA recipients (spouses of permanently and totally disabled veterans or of veterans who have died from service-connected disabilities).

VA: Information on COVID-19 Trials & Impact on Minority Populations

Today, the VA’s Center for Faith & Opportunity Initiative (CFOI) released the following information on COVID-19. The VA CFOI’s mission is to engage, educate, and inform faith-based, community, and non-profit organizations about VA tools and resources that will equip them to better serve Veterans, their families, survivors, caregivers, and other beneficiaries within their organizations.


VA has implemented an aggressive public health response to protect and care for Veterans, their
families, health care providers, and staff in the face of this emerging health risk. VA is working
in close collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal partners to provide COVID-19 vaccinations initially to front-line VA health care workers and Veterans residing in long-term care units in VA medical centers across the country. VA’s ultimate goal is to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to all eligible Veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated.

As part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) fight against the COVID-19 pandemic its nationwide effort to recruit volunteers for COVID-19 clinical trials at select VA facilities across the country.

  • More than 50 VA Medical Centers are participating in trials to test vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.
  • Volunteering for our trials is a way people can help our country more quickly find vaccines and treatments to end the pandemic and get life back to normal.
  • VA’s volunteer list is open to Veterans and non-Veterans, 18 years old or older. Participation in any research study is strictly voluntary. Volunteers go through an informed-consent process that ensures they understand the risks and benefits to joining a study before they make the decision to participate.
  • Sign up for VA’s volunteer list and get more information about VA’s COVID-19 clinical trials and research studies.

Impact of COVID-19 on Minority Populations

  • Black, non-Hispanic people are 1.4 times more likely to test positive, 3.7 times more likely to be hospitalized and 2.8 times more likely to die.
  • Hispanics/Latinos nationwide are 1.7 times more likely to test positive for the virus than
    white, non-Hispanic people, 4.1 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 and 2.8 times more likely to die from it.
  • Non-Hispanic American Indians and Alaska Natives are 1.8 times more likely to test
    positive, 4 times more likely to be hospitalized and 2.6 times more likely to die.
  • Asian, non-Hispanic people are less likely to test positive than whites, but 1.2 times more
    likely to be hospitalized and 1.1 times more likely to die.

Where to get Additional Information

Local Transgender Vet Discusses Military Ban Reversal

Earlier this week, President Biden signed an executive order reversing the U.S military’s ban on transgender people serving.

Sacramento’s FOX 40 interviewed Joanna Michaels, a local transgender Veteran who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, on the news of the reversal. If the video doesn’t play, check out the link above.

It’s been one day since President Joe Biden has removed a ban on transgender people joining and serving in the military.

The new policy prohibits any service member from being forced out of the military based on gender identity. The military must also re-examine the records of service members who were discharged or denied reenlistment due to gender identity under the previous policy.

The move is a weight lifted for more than one million Americans who identify as transgender, some of whom feel an intense calling to pledge themselves to this country and protect it.

Joanna Michaels was one of those Americans back when the Vietnam War raged. She served as a survival instructor for the Air Force from 1967 to 1974.

Sonseeahray spoke to Joanna about her story and what the new policy means to the LGBTQ+ community.

Read: Executive Order on Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform

Executive Order on Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform

JANUARY 25, 2021 • PRESIDENTIAL ACTIONS

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

     Section 1.  Policy.  All Americans who are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States (“Armed Forces”) should be able to serve.  The All-Volunteer Force thrives when it is composed of diverse Americans who can meet the rigorous standards for military service, and an inclusive military strengthens our national security.

     It is my conviction as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces that gender identity should not be a bar to military service.  Moreover, there is substantial evidence that allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military does not have any meaningful negative impact on the Armed Forces.  To that end, in 2016, a meticulous, comprehensive study requested by the Department of Defense found that enabling transgender individuals to serve openly in the United States military would have only a minimal impact on military readiness and healthcare costs.  The study also concluded that open transgender service has had no significant impact on operational effectiveness or unit cohesion in foreign militaries.

     On the basis of this information, the Secretary of Defense concluded in 2016 that permitting transgender individuals to serve openly in the military was consistent with military readiness and with strength through diversity, such that transgender service  members who could meet the required standards and procedures should be permitted to serve openly.  The Secretary of Defense also concluded that it was appropriate to create a process that would enable service members to take steps to transition gender while serving.

     The previous administration chose to alter that policy to bar transgender persons, in almost all circumstances, from joining the Armed Forces and from being able to take steps to transition gender while serving.  Rather than relying on the comprehensive study by a nonpartisan federally funded research center, the previous administration relied on a review that resulted in a policy that set unnecessary barriers to military service.  It is my judgment that the Secretary of Defense’s 2016 conclusions remain valid, as further demonstrated by the fact that, in 2018, the then-serving Chief of Staff of the Army, Chief of Naval Operations, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Chief of Staff of the Air Force all testified publicly to the Congress that they were not aware of any issues of unit cohesion, disciplinary problems, or issues of morale resulting from open transgender service.  A group of former United States Surgeons General, who collectively served under Democratic and Republican Presidents, echoed this point, stating in 2018 that “transgender troops are as medically fit as their non‑transgender peers and that there is no medically valid reason — including a diagnosis of gender dysphoria — to exclude them from military service or to limit their access to medically necessary care.”

     Therefore, it shall be the policy of the United States to ensure that all transgender individuals who wish to serve in the United States military and can meet the appropriate standards shall be able to do so openly and free from discrimination.

     Sec. 2.  Revocation.  The Presidential Memorandum of March 23, 2018 (Military Service by Transgender Individuals), is hereby revoked, and the Presidential Memorandum of August 25, 2017 (Military Service by Transgender Individuals), remains revoked.

     Sec. 3.  Agency Roles and Responsibilities.  In furtherance of the policy described in section 1 of this order, I hereby direct the following:

     (a)  The Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the Coast Guard, shall, after consultation with the Joint Chiefs of Staff about how best to implement this policy and consistent with applicable law, take all necessary steps to ensure that all directives, orders, regulations, and policies of their respective departments are consistent with this order.  These steps shall include establishing a process by which transgender service members may transition gender while serving, along with any further steps that the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Homeland Security deem appropriate to advance the policy described in section 1 of this order.

     (b)  The Secretary of Defense shall:

(i)    immediately prohibit involuntary separations, discharges, and denials of reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to their gender identity;

(ii)   identify and examine the records of service members who have been involuntarily separated, discharged, or denied reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to their gender identity;

(iii)  issue guidance to the Secretaries of each military department regarding the correction of the military records of individuals described in subsection (b)(ii) of this section as necessary to remove an injustice, pursuant to section 1552(a) of title 10, United States Code, to the extent permitted by law; and

(iv)   direct the Secretaries of each military department to provide supplemental guidance, subject to the approval of the Secretary, to the boards for the correction of military records, instructing such boards on how to review applications for the correction of records of individuals described in subsection (b)(ii) of this section.  Where appropriate, the department concerned shall offer such individuals an opportunity to rejoin the military should they wish to do so and meet the current entry standards. 

     (c)  The Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the Coast Guard shall:

(i)    immediately prohibit involuntary separations, discharges, and denials of reenlistment or continuation of service, on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to their gender identity;

(ii)   identify and examine the records of service members who have been involuntarily separated, discharged, or denied reenlistment or continuation of service, on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to their gender identity;

(iii)  issue guidance regarding the correction of the military records of individuals described in subsection (c)(ii) of this section as necessary to remove an injustice, pursuant to section 1552(a) of title 10, United States Code, to the extent permitted by law; and

(iv)   provide supplemental guidance to the Board for Correction of Military Records of the Coast Guard, instructing the Board on how to review applications for the correction of records of individuals described in subsection (c)(ii) of this section.  Where appropriate, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall offer such individuals an opportunity to rejoin the Coast Guard should they wish to do so and meet the current entry standards.

     (d)  The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall report to me within 60 days of the date of this order on their progress in implementing the directives in this order and the policy described in section 1 of this order.

     Sec. 4.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

     (b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

     (c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.


                             JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.
THE WHITE HOUSE,
    January 25, 2021.

VAntage Point: Caregivers Can Get COVID-19 Tests, Vaccine

According to VAntage Point, the VA’s official blog, Caregivers of Veterans are now eligible for COVID-19 testing and vaccination:

Designated family caregivers of Veterans participating in the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers can receive COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.

Each facility will determine its own start date based on site-specific resources, needs and vaccine availability.

“Caregivers play a critical role in caring for some of our most vulnerable Veterans,” said VA Acting Under Secretary for Health Richard A. Stone, M.D. “One of the most important things we can do for caregivers is to help them take care of themselves. The current pandemic has amplified the importance of our caregivers whom we recognize as valuable members of Veterans’ health care teams.”

The testing and vaccines will be administered in line with CDC allocation guidelines. Vaccinations will be offered in accordance with VA’s phased risk stratification framework and will build upon elements outlined in the COVID-19 Vaccination Plan for the Veterans Health Administration. Veterans and their caregivers can get the latest information and sign up to receive updates on VA’s COVID-19 vaccine webpage.

For more information visit VA’s Caregiver Support Program, contact your local facility’s VA Caregiver Support Coordinator or call the Caregiver Support Line at 855-260-3274 from Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

More Information

VA’s COVID-19 vaccine information is at https://www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/stay-informed. People can sign up to get updates on how VA is providing vaccines across the country. The site also provides updates when people can get vaccines.

Visit the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers website at https://www.caregiver.va.gov/support/support_benefits.asp.

Visit VA’s Caregiver Support Program site at https://www.caregiver.va.gov/.

Find a Caregiver Support Coordinator at https://www.caregiver.va.gov/support/New_CSC_Page.asp.

Read the COVID-19 Vaccination Plan for the Veterans Health Administration at https://www.publichealth.va.gov/docs/n-coronavirus/VHA-COVID-Vaccine-Plan-14Dec2020.pdf.

Find a VA location at https://www.va.gov/find-locations/.

38 Organizations Release Statement on the Peaceful Transfer of Power

Following the failed insurrection attempt of January 6, 2021, the undersigned organizations, who serve members of our military, veterans, caregivers, and their families, join in condemning this violent attack on our country, our democracy, and our Constitution.  We affirm our commitment to the US Constitution, our free and fair elections, and the tradition of a peaceful transfer of power. 

We endorse the statement made by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the joint force, which is made up of about 1.3 million active-duty service members and more than 811,000 National Guardsmen and reservists,

“The violent riot in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021 was a direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building, and our Constitutional process. We witnessed actions inside the Capitol building that were inconsistent with the rule of law. The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection.”

Our veterans and men and women in uniform each take an oath to uphold and defend the US Constitution, which provides for the peaceful transfer of power after an election – as confirmed by the States and courts, and certified by the US Congress.  Members of the National Guard are now activated to protect the results of that election.  We call on our fellow Americans to respect the electoral process, as well as the men and women of the National Guard who will be fulfilling their oaths to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.  There must be no further violence.  We, the undersigned, join in opposition to any effort to overthrow our democracy or disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. 

We also call for accountability for those responsible for the seditious acts leading up to and including January 6, 2021. We call upon veterans, members of the military, and each of us who have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution to stand firmly in support of democracy and to recommit to the peaceful transfer of power. We ask our political leaders, who have sworn that very same oath, to do the same. 

Signed,

  1. AMVETS
  2. Brighton Marine, Inc
  3. Code of Support Foundation 
  4. Easterseals DC MD VA
  5. Elizabeth Dole Foundation 
  6. Esposas Militares Hispanas USA
  7. Final Salute, Inc
  8. Give an Hour
  9. Higher Ground Veterans Advocacy 
  10. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America 
  11. Military Child Education Coalition 
  12. Military Family Advisory Network
  13. Military Order of the Purple Heart
  14. Minority Veterans of America   
  15. Modern Military Association of America   
  16. Ms. Veteran America
  17. Mt. Carmel Veterans Services   
  18. MVAT Foundation 
  19. National Military Spouse Network 
  20. Partners in Promise 
  21. Project Sanctuary   
  22. Psych Armor 
  23. Psych Hub
  24. Reveille Foundation 
  25. Secure Families Initiative   
  26. Student Veterans of America 
  27. Swords to Plowshares 
  28. Team Red, White & Blue 
  29. Team Rubicon
  30. The Independence Fund
  31. The Mission Continues 
  32. Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors 
  33. Travis Manion Foundation 
  34. Veterans Community Connection
  35. Veterans Education Successes 
  36. Veterans for Common Sense 
  37. Volunteers of America
  38. wear blue: run to remember

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