As COVID-19 cases across the nation continue to spike, American Legion Post 105 in Redwood City, Calif., is trying to bring some peace of mind to San Mateo County veterans.
On Nov. 21, the post is teaming up with the County of San Mateo Veterans Services Office (CVSO) to provide free, contactless COVID-19 testing to San Mateo County veterans and their family members. The initiative came when Veterans Services Officer Ed Kiryczun reached out to Post 105 about the need for testing in the area.
“The county puts on free COVID testing with the nasal (tests), but they’re looking for more places,” said Post 105 First Vice Commander George Smith. “We started talking about … veterans cannot get a test unless the doctor orders it. The county thought this was a good idea to be able to get out and provide testing for specific entities. (Kiryczun) came to me and said, ‘Do you think this is a good idea?’ I said, ‘I think it’s a great idea.’ He said, ‘Where can we do it?' I said, ‘We can do it at our place.’
“We’ve got a large post and we’ve got a huge parking area. You go inside one way and come out the other, so there’s no congestion getting in and out of the place. That’s where it came from.”
The county is providing the testing kits and computers to register those wanting to be tested, as well as a flyer advertising the testing. Smith has emailed the flyer to county veteran organizations, as well as to more than 170 members of the post, and placed info on the post's website. Veterans and their families can pre-register for a test or show up the day of testing with a VA medical card, military ID or DD 214.
The testing kits utilize a mouth swab, rather than the nasal test. Those getting tested will follow strict guidelines that include wearing masks to enter the post, then moving outside of the building to swab their own mouths. The swab is then put into a container, which is placed into a bag and dropped in a bucket. Test results will be available via email, text or an 800 phone number within 48-72 hours.
“None of our people will ever touch anything or anybody,” Smith said. “We just have people there watching … and they’re all in protective gear.”
Testing will take place from noon-3 p.m. Smith, a member of the San Mateo County Veterans Commission, is estimating the post will provide testing for 200-250 people. “This is a two-purpose thing,” he said. “The first one is to provide the veterans in our community with the COVID testing. And partnering with the CVSO … that gives our veterans service office the ability to look and see if they’ve registered with the (office). If they haven’t, then the CVSO will give them a return call just to do a check-up letting them know they’re there.
“We will have representatives from the (Department of Veterans Affairs), we’ll have PTSD people there, we’ll have three to four different groups there for the veterans. We really want to get to the veterans and let them know we’re there to help them.”
Other American Legion Family members also have continued to assist others during the pandemic. In St. Louis Park, Minn., American Legion Post 282 continues to make Buddy Checks on older veterans. The post is assisting World War II and Korean War veterans with their dues and donating to the St. Louis Park Emergency Program. The post is also assisting any veterans who request help with navigating the Department of Veterans Affairs health system.
“We are very careful about personal information and contact,” Post 282 Service Officer Tom Schottenbauer told the Sun Sailor.
And in the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Legion Post 102 in St. Croix recently collected and donated 1,350 disposable facemasks to the Department of Human Services and the Herbert Griggs Home for the Aged. The masks were given to the nurses working at the facility.
“We are proud that we can be able to accomplish one of our pillars, which is involvement in the community,” Post 102 Commander Secundino Cruz told the St. Croix Avis.