In the COVID-19 Military Support Initiative’s (CMSI) virtual town hall meeting on Tuesday, participants involved in the support community for wounded veterans discussed the challenges posed to this vulnerable population during the pandemic.

The introductory speakers of the webinar were former Senators Elizabeth and Bob Dole. “As you know, our nation has been tested time and again throughout history,” said Senator Bob Dole. “Time and again we have proven that the American spirit always prevail…we will beat this an become stronger because of it.”

The town hall’s panel was moderated by Steve Schwab, CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. Speakers included veteran caregiver Jeanette Davidson-Meyer, McKinsey Partner Alex Harris, Carelinx CEO Sherwin Sheik, and Director of the Independence Project at the Wounded Warrior Project Alex Balbir.

“Many wounded warriors are in high risk categories for COVID complications including compromised immune systems, pulmonary disease, diabetes or a host of other complicating factors,” said Schwab.

Schwab went on to describe a “host of challenges” that affect wounded warriors and caregivers during the pandemic. This includes delays/complications in delivery services, finding available supplies including PPE, and increased anxiety and PTSD symptoms as a result of crisis.

Carlinx CEO Sherwin Sheik described how his organization saw a “huge” acceleration of care in March and April as a result of the pandemic. “We serve as the eyes, ears and arms of remote clinical teams,” said Sheik. He said that one of the main objectives is to provide caregivers the tools to keep vulnerable populations at home rather than having to take unnecessary visits to the hospital.

The growth in virtual health options were a key factor discussed in the town hall. “The VA has worked so hard to shift on a dime so that veterans are getting their needs met on a safe way,” said Lisa Pape, deputy chief patient care officer at the VA. “We’ve gone from an outpatient to a telehealth system.”

To listen to the full CMSI webinar recording of the town hall, please visit this link.