12 questions and answers about the coronavirus

12 questions and answers about the coronavirus

There is so much information floating around about the coronavirus pandemic. Where should I go to get the most up-to-date and accurate information?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the most current and reliable information for the virus, including symptoms, what to do if you are sick, the use of masks, development of vaccines and much more. Visit the CDC web page here. The World Health Organization website is another good resource. Additionally, check your local and state health department for further guidelines.

For information about The American Legion’s activities, programs and other interests, this special web page has all the updated information.

For questions related to VA benefits, policies at VA medical centers, etc., the Department of Veterans Affairs website has lots of information.

My understanding is that the national commander is not traveling now. What is he doing to lead The American Legion forward at this time?

National Commander Bill Oxford is following stay-at-home directives but he is still leading the nation’s largest veterans service organization. For example, he is publishing twice-daily updates on Legion activities related to the coronavirus.

Additionally, the commander recorded some video messages about key initiatives going on at this time. They include a new project called Month of Hope. During April, The American Legion is spearheading a program to generate awareness toward its Veterans and Children Foundation. As the pandemic deepens, V&CF will be a critical way in which the Legion can continue to support the nation’s veterans, servicemembers, their families, and children and youth.

With almost every state instituting stay-at-home or other social distancing directives, how does my post, district or department conduct business?

All states have different laws and statutes that post, districts and departments must follow. Department adjutants have been asked to contact their department judge advocates so they can review state regulations and advise on how to best proceed with elections, department conventions, etc.

The best way for post and district officers to proceed is to work with their department judge advocates on what is required to conduct business during the pandemic.

For contact information for your department, please visit www.legion.org/departments.

Our post wants to help other veterans in our community — from a safe distance. What do you recommend?

The American Legion’s Buddy Check program is perfect for this type of community outreach. In fact, a new toolkit to help American Legion posts touch base with veterans in their communities during the coronavirus pandemic is now available. Download “How to Perform a Buddy Check During the Coronavirus Pandemic” for guidelines on how to reach veterans who may be sheltering in place to find out if they need assistance.

The toolkit explains how to assemble a Buddy Check team and how to acquire the names of Legionnaires, past and present, so they can be contacted. The kit also has sample scripts for Buddy Check callers.

I heard that all American Legion summer youth programs have been cancelled. Why not wait until closer to the time so that the youth can enjoy these activities?

Yes, for safety reasons, all national summer youth programs have been cancelled. That includes American Legion Baseball’s Regional and World Series tournaments, Boys Nation, the oratorical contest and the Junior Shooting Sports championships. These decisions have not been taken lightly. The coronavirus presents an elevated risk to program participants, volunteers, judges or referees, parents and chaperones, and others. And CDC and other health officials believe that the United States has not seen the virus peak yet. Therefore, The American Legion made the difficult determination to cancel these programs, putting safety first.

I am a blood donor and want to donate again but I am concerned about my safety, as well as others. How are blood drives being handled now?

This is a critical time for collecting blood, as the Red Cross has deemed the need to be “urgent.” Across the nation, American Legion posts are stepping up to host and assist with blood drives, while adhering to safety protocols established to halt the spread of the deadly virus. In fact, the American Red Cross has established new standards at blood drive locations, including procedures to adhere to “social distancing.”

The Red Cross is strongly recommending that donors schedule an appointment, instead of just showing up.

I miss my American Legion brothers and sisters, and learning about our post. While I am riding this out at home, what can I do to become more engaged with the Legion?

The American Legion’s Basic Training course is available during the pandemic. It allows participants to learn about the Legion while working from home, serves as a distraction from cabin fever and remains free of charge.

I am away from my regular residence or unable to go to the post office to get my American Legion Magazine. How can I access it?

A digital copy of the magazine will be published around the 20th of each month and be accessible via your MyLegion account. So the June issue would be available on or about April 20. Past issues have already been published there.

I’ve heard National Headquarters shut down. Who do I contact with a question?

Nearly all American Legion staff members are working from home. Key personnel are available by phone and email. For assistance, please reference the contact us page to find who is best suited to answer your question.

I’ve heard that Congress has passed a stimulus bill to cover some of the economic fallout from the pandemic. Is there anything in it to specifically help veterans?

The $2.2 trillion stimulus bill, signed by President Trump, allocates just under $20 billion to VA. That additional funding is to be used for essential medical services, including vital medical and protective equipment; testing kits personal protective equipment, and medical supplies to support growing demand for health-care services at VA facilities and through telehealth services.

What do the stimulus plan payouts mean for retirees who are no longer in the workforce?

The Internal Revenue Service is developing procedures for issuing the stimulus payments to Americans, as called for under the CARES Act. The details are still being worked out and are subject to change. However, on April 1, the IRS and the U.S. Department of the Treasury said Social Security recipients will not be required to file a “simple” tax return to receive their stimulus payments. That reverses a March 30 statement by the IRS that indicated individuals who hadn't filed federal tax returns for 2018 or 2019 would need to file a simple return to receive the stimulus payment. Many Social Security recipients aren't required to file tax returns based on their income levels.

What do I need to know about shopping at nationwide retailers?

Many major chains including Walmart, Target and Costco have enacted measures to reduce the number of shoppers inside at any given time. This follows earlier changes in which the retailers scaled back their hours but established times during which they would allow only senior citizens and those with underlying health conditions to shop. Check the retailers' websites or your local outlet for specific information.