You may feel alone right now, but please know there are people working hard to help support you any way they can. Take a look at the resources below, and please don't hesitate to reach out to any agency or organization on this list. If you need any kind of help (periodic check-ins, groceries, housing help, etc.) please fill out our Veterans Mutual Aid Request Form:
You can also call us at 929-265-4549. You've asked us questions--and we want to help with answers. Please see below for the best information we've compiled to date, and please come back for updates. (Updates as of 3/27/20) Here's what we know right now:
1) This emergency may last a while.
On March 24, Governor Cuomo stated the COVID-19 pandemic will reach its peak within 2-3 weeks in New York. It is unclear how much longer the spread of the virus will last beyond that. So let's buckle in and prepare to make it through however long this lasts.
2) Social distancing and washing your hands thoroughly (20 seconds) with soap are important protective measures for you and others.
Whether you're old or young, healthy or sick, and regardless of whether you ever have symptoms--we all have a part to play in stopping the spread of this dangerous virus wherever we can. Keep at least 6 feet apart from others if you go outside--but otherwise please stay home no matter who you are to reduce spreading the virus.
Get comprehensive facts, statistics, and tips on the COVID-19 illness and pandemic from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
3) Veterans need to protect ourselves from misinformation and scams.
Be wary of information without verifiable sources--and be ESPECIALLY suspicious of anyone trying to charge you money for information, testing, or anything else related to COVID-19. Bad actors will be out there trying to exploit this situation--let's be vigilant.
If you think you're being scammed or overcharged, call 311 (in NYC) or make a complaint to the New York State Attorney General at 1-800-771-7755.
4) Know what to do if you or someone in your household has symptoms.
COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and range from mild to potentially fatal. This can be a scary illness, which is why we all need to do all we can to halt its spread.
See symptom guidelines from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and/or call the New York State Department of Health's COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065 to talk with a healthcare professional about any symptoms you are experiencing and to learn whether you should be tested or seek emergency care.
If you need COVID-19 information and assistance in New Jersey, go to covid19.nj.gov
If you are enrolled in VA Healthcare, see the VA's guidance on COVID-19 , call your nearest VA facility, log in to HealtheVet, or use VA telehealth to consult with a VA provider about your symptoms before you plan to visit a VA facility in person.
Here are resources to know about:
COVID-19 Relief Measures
GI Bill Continuity - Congress passed legislation to make sure student veterans continue to receive educational benefits without interruption even if schools have moved to distance learning. Call the VA's GI Bill hotline at 1-888-442-4551 to resolve any issues or concerns you might have.
Paid Sick Leave - All employers are required by New York State to pay sick leave to employees affected by COVID-19 quarantine.
Unemployment Relief - New York State has waived the 7-day waiting period for anyone needing to file a claim for unemployment insurance as a result of COVID-19 closures and quarantines. As in, you can file as soon as you find yourself out of work.
Mortgage Relief - New York State has issued guidance to mortgage providers to provide relief to homeowners impacted by COVID-19.
Eviction Relief - As of March 20, Governor Cuomo has issued a moratorium on evictions for a period of 90 days.
Tenants Rights Hotline by Met Council - 212-979-0611 (ingles y espanol) or more info
Report attempted evictions - Anyone with knowledge of City marshals attempting to execute on warrants of eviction can report this activity by calling DOI’s Bureau of City Marshals at (212) 825-5953.
Utilities Relief - Utility companies are suspending shutoff of utility services in both New York and New Jersey.
Tax Filing Relief - The new IRS deadline for filing taxes is July 15, 2020.
Relief for NYC Small Businesses - NYC is providing relief measures for qualifying small businesses in NYC.
Veterans Claims, Benefits, and Help
Free Benefits Counseling for New Yorkers - New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs staff are working remotely, but you can still get help with filing a VA claim and free counseling from fellow veterans on VA and New York benefits and services for veterans. The intake phone center is currently down, but staff are ready to get in touch with you if you send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Rapid Response Referral Program - Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) has a free, 24/7 hotline for veterans of any era, their spouses/partners, or their families to get help with accessing benefits, services, or just to have someone to talk to. This is a nationwide service. Call 1-855-91RAPID or go HERE.
New Jersey Veterans Network is a group of New Jersey veterans and volunteers dedicated to helping our veterans and their families live better lives. Their mission is to identify veterans and connect them with resources and programs designed to meet their unique set of needs. Call 973-332-1556.
Families with K-12 Children
Grab & Go Meals - In NYC, any K-12 students can pick up breakfast, lunch, and afterschool meals any NYC school facility.
Free Spectrum WiFi - Spectrum/Charter is offering 60 days of free WiFi for households with K-12 and college students who aren't current customers.
Remote Learning Devices - NYC Schools is lending digital learning devices to enable all K-12 students to learn at home.
Plentiful App - The United Way has developed a free app for any smartphone that will show you food pantries open near you. Just text "FOOD" to PANTRY (726-879) from any phone for the link to download it.
FoodHelp.NYC - Apply for food assistance benefits and view a map of food pantries and community kitchens. Or call 866-888-8777 or 311 for information on locations and hours to get immediate help with food in NYC.
Invisible Hands - If you need grocery delivery--whether you can pay for it or not--you can place a request for delivery from an all-volunteer startup in NYC.
God's Love We Deliver - Apply for you or your loved one to receive meal delivery from a nonprofit serving individuals living with chronic illnesses or disabilities.
Free Baby Formula - WIC members can have baby formula delivered FREE to all New York City boroughs. Dial 718-405-9111
PenFed Foundation - PenFed is providing emergency cash assistance to qualifying veterans and military members.
VFW Unmet Needs Grants - The VFW offers emergency cash assistance to qualifying veterans, military members, and families.
NYC Cash Assistance - NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) has a program to assist with immediate cash needs.
Housing is a top concern for all New Yorkers, and finding solutions for your specific situation can be very challenging, so we'll cut to the chase--there's no easy answers in NYC right now, and there are more than 600 veterans we know of who are currently homeless (the vast majority in shelters) and unable to find permanent housing. Evictions are suspended for 90 days (see above), but that may not end your worries.
See our Affordable Apartment Primer for a comprehensive listing of what we know about solutions for affordable housing.
If you have a tough-to-solve situation, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 929-265-4549 and we'll do our best to help you find solutions.
Our Suggestions: If you've been laid off from a job in services that have been closed down--you may be able to find work with services that are now in high demand. Take a look at open positions at FreshDirect, ConEdision, Amazon, Whole Foods. These are ideas, not necessarily endorsements. Let us know if there are companies ready to hire quickly and we'll post the link.
Mental Health Assistance
Rapid Response Referral Program - Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) has a free, 24/7 hotline for veterans of any era, their spouses/partners, or their families to talk with peer-to-peer support specialists. This is a nationwide service. Call 1-855-91RAPID or go HERE.
Headstrong - Headstrong is (virtually) open to treating current and new veteran clients during the COVID-19 emergency. Sign up online or contact Sam Dickinson, LCSW, Headstrong Counselor at Szd2014@med.cornell.edu
NY Presbyterian Military Family Wellness Center - Anyone interested in our services can reach out directly to our intake specialist, Sara Such at email@example.com or Matt Ryba at 347-949-1193 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set up new services.
Veterans Crisis Line - Are you a veteran in crisis or concerned about one? Connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responders with the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs. Many of them are Veterans themselves. 24/7/376 call, text, or chat support is available for all veterans, service members, reserve and National Guard members, and their loved ones. Call 1-800-273-8255, press 1 - or text 838255 to reach a caring professional.
NYC Well - NYC's connection to free, confidential mental health support. Speak to a counselor via phone, text, or chat and get access to mental health and substance use services, in more than 200 languages, 24/7/365. Provides peer support and short-term counseling via telephone, text and web; referrals and warm transfer to other services; follow-up to check that you have connected to care and it is working for you. Call 1-888-692-9355.
Talkspace - This is a paid service, but is a robust online platform that connects you to a therapist for as long as you choose. Currently offering 7-day free trial, and a discount for veterans. Therapists with a competency in serving military and veterans will indicate so in their profile.
PTSD Coach - PTSD Coach is a free app designed for those who have, or may have, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This app provides you with education about PTSD, information about professional care, a self-assessment for PTSD, opportunities to find support, and tools that can help you manage the stresses of daily life with PTSD. PTSD Coach was created by VA’s National Center for PTSD and DoD’s National Center for Telehealth & Technology.
Planning for the Future
Making a Household Plan - Take the time to make a plan for your household to not only contend with the current situation, but for future potential escalation of circumstances. Make a plan for the possibility of you or your household members to seek emergency medical care. Make a plan for how your household, including your pets, will be managed if emergency medical care is needed. Check in with neighbors and make a list of your emergency contacts. Put all of your significant personal documents and records in one place in case they are needed in a hurry. Also see Ready NY for more helpful preparedness tips!
Updating Your Will - Regardless of your age or life expectancy, it's always good to have a plan to leave behind for your loved ones. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has a unique partnership with FreeWill to provide you with a way to create or update your will, advance health care directives, and more at no cost to you.
Planning Your Legacy - All veterans are entitled to benefits at the end of their lives. We've gotten questions from family members of veterans who are near the end of their lives or recently passed who don't know what benefits are available to them, or what their veteran's wishes are/were. Whether you're young or old, please make sure you let your loved ones know this information. Learn more and get started HERE.
Ways to Help Others
Donate Blood - Blood reserves are critically low right now. If you can, consider donating now.
Volunteer for the Medical Reserve Corps - New Yorkers certified in healthcare are asked to volunteer their services if available.
Team Rubicon - Sign up to volunteer in your local community during COVID-19 with Team Rubicon USA.
Invisible Hands - Volunteer for a NYC startup that's coordinating home deliveries for New Yorkers in need.
Help Main Street - Purchase gift cards from your favorite local businesses to keep the cash flowing to them.
Relief Funds for NYC Restaurant Workers - Contribute to relief funds for local businesses that are shut down.
Your NYC Council (or Local Elected) Office - Contact your elected officials to ask if there are safe volunteer opportunities or ways to donate goods in your neighborhood.
Ways to Stay Connected
OurVeterans.NYC - We've pivoted from listing in-person events to listing as many digital events as possible that are relevant to the NYC Metro area veterans community. Please connect with the many veteran-serving and civic organizations who want to connect with you! Have an event? Send it to OurVeterans@nycveteransalliance.org
Enjoy NYC's Culture Online - Many of NYC's cultural institutions are offering programming free online. Just a few to get you started: 92nd St Y, New York Public Library, Metropolitan Opera, Broadway shows, Lincoln Center, Asia Society, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, and more tbd!
Have resources to add? Send them to email@example.com - we're in this together!