On June 3rd, 2020, Berry Law hosted a webinar focused on Coronavirus and Veterans, discussing how the virus has impacted the Veteran community and what to expect next.
Panelists included Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Navy Seal-turned-entrepreneur Chriss Smith, non-profit leader and founder of the Vetty Awards Assal Ravandi, and Human Performance Expert Dr. Mickra Hamilton, in addition to Berry Law CEO John S. Berry, Together, they discussed a series of issues including physical and mental health, mindset during social distancing, and the path toward economic recovery.
All the panelists encouraged Veterans to continue improving their health during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Congressman Gosar said: “This is a wake-up call to take care of ourselves much better.” Chriss Smith noted that in personal training there is a sickness-wellness scale, and that being well is the greatest prevention tool for injury, including getting sick.
One particular concern for Veterans is the combination of a respiratory illness with a background that includes exposure to burn pits, dust storms, and other toxic elements, especially for those already suffering from Chronic Lung Disease. Congressman Gosar addressed the issue and talked about the status of the Burn Pit registry.
Beyond the physical health impacts of coronavirus, there are significant dangers to mental health in an environment of social distancing and uncertainty. Dr. Hamilton noted that many symptoms of mental health can be exacerbated by fear and uncertainty and that “addressing the unknown and communicating that Veterans are being taken care of can provide a bit of comfort.” She also noted that anxiety decreases with information, and the more information available to Veterans, the better they may cope.
On a relative bright side for Veterans, Dr. Hamilton noted that civilians may actually be having a more difficult time with the uncertainty aspect than Veterans. “We train for the unexpected. So some Veterans are more prepared than civilians.” However, this does not apply equally to all Veterans, as those already suffering from PTSD may experience new difficulties and not be able to get adequate care. Furthermore, while there may be less immediate stress, the Veterans may suffer more because they are less likely to accept help. As Berry noted: “Refusing help can be a source of pride. To say: ‘I’m going through all these things and I could still win.’ It’s very tough to come down and say ‘I need help, I’ve got problems’.”
The message frequently returned to innovating and improving through the COVID crisis. Berry noted that “innovations in medicine frequently come during war time,” and Congressman Gosar highlighted research and possible treatments for the future.
The panelists talked about the economic recovery and encouraged a message of getting people back to work safely, both for stimulating the economy and for the mental well-being of Veterans. Smith said: “We need to encourage our Veterans to go out and find things to do. It’s going to stave off the isolationism of social distancing and help them get back on track.”
For next steps, Congressman Gosar assured Veterans that “We got a number of bills we are pursuing…they are built upon the aspect of empowering veterans not victimizing them.”
Final thoughts were all very encouraging, including:
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