Local veterans and their families can receive free COVID-19 tests and also get connected to benefits, housing, food, and other services at an upcoming “pop-up” clinic on Dec. 18 at the San Luis Obispo Vets’ Hall.
Between 9 a.m. and noon, veterans and family members may drop by the facility at 801 Grand Ave. to self-administer a COVID-19 test with supervision from a nurse and speak with staff members from other vet-focused agencies.
SLO County Public Health announced the event on Dec. 15 in partnership with the SLO County Veterans Services Office
, Behavioral Health, the SLO Vet Center, and the Community Action Partnership of SLO County.
IMAGE COURTESY OF SLO COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH
GET A TEST Veterans are invited to drop by the SLO Vets’ Hall for free COVID-19 testing on Dec. 18.
“As we’re all aware, our vets are some of the most underserved populations in our community,” Veterans Services Officer Morgan Boyd told New Times
by phone. “As with other underrepresented communities, they have a higher rate of getting COVID. We want to provide them an opportunity to be as safe as possible.”
Boyd said events like these are increasingly difficult to hold due to the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, yet are critical for reaching out to veterans in the community. He emphasized the opportunity to personally connect with veterans and check-in on their needs and well-being.
“To me, it’s equally as important as these COVID tests that we engage with some of these veterans,” Boyd said. “During these unprecedented, trying times, we want to make sure our vets and family members who might need access to behavioral health support, and housing support, and food, that we can maybe provide them with a little bit of relief during the holiday season.”
All vets who attend the clinic will go home with a resource bag filled with information on available benefits and services and other “swag.”
Nationwide, COVID-19 is hitting veteran communities hard, particularly at VA hospitals and nursing homes, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article
. On top of that, pandemic isolation is hurting veteran mental health, Boyer said.
“Veteran suicide is rampant in this country and it’s going up because of the isolation that’s required due to COVID,” he said. “I’m hopeful some of them will come out and, just through engagement, identify the resources they need to be supported.” ∆