Matthew Kampainen, DAV WI Commander
WDVA: Request for Assistance with COVID-19
Fellow DAV members,
At this time, Wisconsin is a COVID-19 hotspot with a troubling infection rate of 20.7%. To stop the spread of COVID-19, the infection rate must be under 1%.
Recently, I received an email from Mary Kolar, Secretary for the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, which contained a State Veterans Homes update and a request for assistance.
Upon reading the email, I urge all DAV members, their families, their friends, and our supporters to follow the CDC guidelines to help ensure that the health care providers and residents at the State Veterans Homes are protected. Please read Secretary Kolar's letter below my signature.
Disabled American Veterans
Department of Wisconsin
From: "Kolar, Mary - DVA"
Date: September 30, 2020 at 10:35:15 AM CDT
Subject: Request for Assistance
I hope this email finds you, your family, and friends well.
I write to you today to implore you to help me motivate your membership and others to do all they can to keep themselves healthy and to help protect all the essential workers that we have working in our state including those at our Veterans Homes at Chippewa Falls, King, and Union Grove.
We have reached a crisis situation here in Wisconsin.
Last month, we had 29 residents and 25 staff at our Wisconsin Veterans Home at Union Grove contract the coronavirus. Sadly, ten passed away. Thankfully, we currently have no active cases.
At our Veterans Home at King, we currently have 44 residents and 24 staff with COVID-19. Sadly, 8 residents at King have died due to complications of COVID-19.
And, at our Home in Chippewa Falls, we have seen our first cases of COVID-19 just this week. One resident and two staff have tested positive for this terrible virus.
These are our nation’s heroes and our incredible, dedicated health care workers. They all have family and friends who are undoubtedly worried, sad, and upset. One of the great things about working on our campuses is that we get to know each other’s stories and we become like family. Right now, our family is hurting.
Wisconsin continues to set record high numbers of COVID-19 positive cases. While initially rural areas were not affected by the virus, now EVERY county in the state is experiencing HIGH levels of COVID-19 activity.
A report examining metro areas with at least 50,000 people nationwide with the greatest number of new cases, relative to their population, in the last two weeks has found that six Wisconsin cities are in the top twenty nationally. If you look at those cities, four – Oshkosh, Green Bay, Appleton, and Stevens Point - are in close proximity to King. In addition, they list the metro areas where new cases are rising the fastest, on a population-adjusted basis. Green Bay, Oshkosh, Wausau, and Racine are all listed in the top ten nationally! Those areas cover King and Union Grove.
Our workers have to live their lives when they leave the workplace. They need to stop at the gas station and grocery store, their kids are in day care and sometimes school, and they have their own medical and other appointments. We need everyone to do their part so they can stay protected when they are out in the community. This is a highly contagious virus that can have terrible consequences for many people. It can also be sneaky, as some will not experience symptoms yet can be unknowingly spreading the virus. Others get very, very ill.
While I am able to report to you what is happening at our Homes, this is not just about protecting the veterans and staff there. In fact, we both have responsibility for the DAV membership that you lead and the veterans across this state for whom I am an advocate. The data and information we have about where COVID-19 is prevalent and spreading quickly coincides directly with the information we have about where veterans live. Of particular concern is that a significant number of aging veterans who are at higher risk of getting complications from COVID-19 live up north and in rural areas where hospital care is often far from home.
This is why it is so important that we continue to stay home as much as possible, wear a mask when out and maintain at least six feet from others, and wash our hands frequently. These are known ways we can do our part to prevent the spread of this deadly virus.
I hope you will help me spread this message. We need everyone to understand that COVID-19 is affecting and hurting real people…people who like you and me who took an oath to serve our country, stand up for it, and fight if necessary. Today, I ask you to join me in this fight. These are our brothers and sisters and this is our battlefield. We need to have their backs.
Mary M. Kolar
Captain, U.S. Navy (Ret)
Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs