Team Red, White & Blue Inc.
August 2021—July 2022
Since the beginning of the pandemic, it is estimated that more than 1,000 veterans in New York State alone have died from COVID-19.
As mass vaccination efforts rolled out in spring 2021, many veterans, especially those living in rural areas, remained hesitant to get vaccinated. Many of the same veterans who would benefit from vaccination also faced other effects of the pandemic, including increased social isolation, financial stress, delayed medical care, and mental health concerns. Vaccination outreach became a high priority and created an additional opportunity to connect veterans to peer support, physical and mental health care, food, and wellness programs. In response, six national veteran organizations, including Team Red, White & Blue (Team RWB) and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), came together to form the Veterans Coalition for Vaccination. By mobilizing trusted veteran volunteers and a trained outreach workforce, the coalition promoted increased access to vaccines in high-need areas, such as rural communities, across New York State. In 2021, NYHealth awarded Team RWB a grant to help implement the coalition’s work and increase veterans’ access to both COVID-19 vaccines and community-based resources that could reduce suicide risk, improve their health, and increase their quality of life.