Code of Support Foundation (COSF) Response to COVID-19
May 5, 2020
Message from the CEO, Kristina Kaufmann
I hope you and your families are staying as safe as possible during these challenging times.
Unfortunately, there is no complete safety for anyone in light of the public health crisis we face today. As all Americans struggle to navigate through this, our military veterans and their families have been hit particularly hard.
We know that there are millions of veterans who are more likely to experience job loss, financial instability, health challenges, and feelings of isolation and depression during this pandemic.Recent studies show that the number of veteran families impacted by COVID-19 will continue to climb at an exponential rate. Our mission to ensure these families quickly get the help they need, is now more critical than ever to remove barriers and open access to the services designed to support them.
In the past several weeks, Code of Support has seen more than a 175% increase in applications for help and 70% increase in users on our PATRIOTlink database.
“My husband, a disabled Army veteran, has pneumonia and a blood clot in his lung; but because he did not test positive for COVID-19, the hospital sent us home. I have no money for medicine, sanitizer, or masks, and I am afraid to leave the house to even buy groceries for fear of infecting him. I’m asking Code of Support to help us find enough supplies and food to get through this.” – Kathy, Wife and Caregiver, 4/3/20
As everything in our world moves digital, it is no surprise that calls for Code of Support’s services have increased exponentially. Dollars are pouring into food banks, homeless shelters, emergency financial assistance, and other direct services, for good reason. But none of those resources will make a difference if our veteran families in crisis are unable to find and access them. That’s why COSF’s mission to coordinate and connect veterans to the right help, at the right time is more important than ever.
“Right now we are helping a veteran and his family who need help paying the bills. Like many others, this disabled veteran lost his job due to COVID-19, and the family’s strict budget means they have little savings to cover the gap. We connected him to a financial counselor and programs that allow veterans to postpone bills and credit card payments in light of the crisis. I’m continuing to work with this family to keep food on the table and a roof over their head.” – COSF Case Coordination Manager Marjorie Pennington, 4/6/20
We cannot delay in answering the rapidly increasing calls for our Case Coordination and PATRIOTlink programs. According to the recently-released study on the impact of COVID-19 on US veterans from the Bob Woodruff Foundation:
14% of veterans are employed in industries most likely to experience immediate layoffs due to COVID-19;
Nearly one-third of all post-9/11 veterans reported difficulty paying bills and had little to no savings before the COVID-19 outbreak;
Veterans are already more likely to experience feelings of depression, suicide, and loneliness, all of which are exacerbated by the quarantine;
Most veterans report barriers to receiving adequate mental and behavioral healthcare even before the crisis.
Here at Code of Support, we are ramping-up our response to meet the immediate need of this unprecedented increase in demand for our services:
We’ve already added one new full-time Peer Navigator caseworker to handle the unprecedented increase in calls for assistance;
Our Navigators are prioritizing all COVID-19 inquiries including support with job loss or transition, access to mental and behavioral healthcare, and financial counseling/assistance;
With uncertainty and changes every day, our PATRIOTlink team is vetting and verifying new resources as they become available, while updating the information of over 5,000 free programs already available to users; and,
We are providing opportunities for those who haven’t served to directly support our military families during this crisis – such as Peer Support: Objective Zero where ambassadors volunteer to receive calls, texts, and video chats from veterans who are feeling isolated.
That is why I am asking you to continue to stand with Code of Support. Now more than ever, we need your support to immediately expand access to the growing numbers of veterans and their families hit hardest by the current crisis.
Please let me know if we can count on you to help us serve those who served us.