U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie calling for the VA to help counteract loneliness and social isolation experienced by veterans and service members in high-risk groups during the coronavirus pandemic. The letter calls for the VA to take innovative steps to combat loneliness in veterans.
“Unprecedented safety measures, including stay-at-home orders, to avoid transmission of COVID-19 exacerbate social isolation and loneliness. Research has found a consistent relationship between loneliness, lack of connection, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Most at risk for loneliness are individuals in adolescence, early adulthood, early 50’s, and 80’s,” Senator Young writes. “Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy determined volunteerism, a phone call, or a visit alleviates the effects of loneliness. The President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) concurs human-to-human connections mitigate risk.”
Last week, in a speech to the Sagamore Institute, Senator Young discussed the adverse effects of loneliness, which are heightened now during the coronavirus pandemic. Our active duty service members, veterans and their families may be facing extreme isolation during this time. Senator Young is calling on the VA to use innovative ideas to galvanize volunteers to serve those at risk both during and after we stop the spread of this virus.