National Coalition of Homeless Veterans
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NCHV urges Congress to expand vaccine access to ALL who served

NCHV thanks the U.S. House for their expeditious passage of H.R. 1276, VA Vaccine Act of 2021. All veterans deserve equitable access to life-saving treatments such as the COVID vaccine, and we support expanded access for spouses, and veterans not enrolled in VA healthcare. We urge Congress to apply an equity-based analysis to vaccine access and clarify that all who have served, regardless of discharge status, are eligible for vaccination by VA.

Veterans with other-than-honorable (OTH) discharge statuses comprise 15% of the population experiencing homelessness, and others with dishonorable discharges become homeless due to their inability to access healthcare and other essential services. Studies have found that Black veterans are more likely to face military judicial proceedings or disciplinary action, which affects their status at discharge. An entire generation of servicemembers was administratively discharged under the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. Other veterans are in possession of OTH or dishonorable discharges for reasons that stem from self-medicating for untreated mental health issues, some of which stem from their military service.

Further, due to the high risk of COVID transmission in congregate settings, we request that staff and all residents of organizations providing shelter, outreach, and permanent supportive housing to veterans experiencing or who have experienced homelessness be added to the list of covered individuals. Not all states have prioritized staff at homeless service organizations or people experiencing homelessness for vaccination, putting this highly vulnerable population at risk.

NCHV looks forward to continued collaboration with Congress and VA as we continue to help serve these vulnerable populations.

1730 M Street NW, Suite 705  |  Washington, DC  |  20036  |  t-f. 1.800.VET.HELP  |  v. 202.546.1969  |  f. 202.546.2063  |