Veterans know more than your average civilian about making do with rations and hunkering down in times of war. The war that we are facing right now involves a very scary unseen enemy–the coronavirus, which has become a threatening global pandemic. And although veterans know how to keep their wits about them in a crisis, they are part of a vulnerable population, many of them older with underlying medical conditions that put them at greater risk.
When the normality of life is upended, it can be a panicky feeling, but there is no need for panic if you take proper precautions. These are tips for veterans to stay protected, calm and informed while we all ride out the wave of high alert until the threat of the coronavirus passes.
Stay home if you can. Even if you have no symptoms, be extra cautious to protect other people. This is called social distancing and is basically a call to stand far away from other people. Experts believe the coronavirus travels through droplets, so limiting your exposure to other people is a good way to protect yourself.
The word isolation is a little scary for some vets who may already be feeling somewhat alone. It’s important to know you are not alone in the larger sense, even if you’re physically isolated.
Always remember you are part of a larger community, and there are people you can reach out to.
FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype are excellent ways to keep in touch with friends and family. Start a daily group chat with a few people to stay connected. Play games together online. If you’re lonely don’t be afraid to reach out and make a call.
Exercise is a great mood booster. Los Angeles trainer and wellness coach Lisa Goldenthal recommends getting out of the house, even if it’s just a walk to the park. “Getting out in nature is such an uplifting way to get some fresh air, which provides oxygen for your brain and other cells, bringing clarity and increasing serotonin which naturally boosts happiness. There is definitely a calming, therapeutic effect for getting outdoors and taking a walk. The change in temperature of going outside can help boost your energy as well.”
Vitamins are key to our general health, but Vitamin D, in particular, has been shown to affect mental health, and there’s no better way to get it than spending some quality time in the sunlight. New studies have shown that Vitamin D actually lowers blood pressure and helps treat depression as well.
Exercising is also critical as it is so important to remain heart-healthy. Lisa recommends YouTube for great home workouts. You can do a search on YouTube for yoga, pilates, Zumba, or any kind of workout, and you can choose a short or longer video depending on what you’re in the mood for.
There is something to be said for the healing power of music. Music has a way of opening our hearts and helping us feel more connected to others, to ourselves, and to the world around us. As a result, it is a direct line to our emotions and state of being.
So groove on slow jams or get your head bopping to your favorite albums, CDs, Spotify, Alexa. Alphabetize your albums, stack your CDs, make new playlists online and give them titles like “Ruby Tuesday,” “Thursday Night Jams,” “Moody Mondays.” Share your playlists or curate some for your friends and family. You may have missed your calling as a deejay.
DVD’s, Netflix, television are also great ways to pass the time. Binge on the new season of your favorite show, or check out a show you’ve been meaning to watch. Get lost in a great book you can grab off the shelf, purchase online, read on your kindle, or listen to on Audiobooks.
Unbroken is a truly amazing book about courage, forgiveness and the tenacity of the human spirit.
Crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, Soduku, and playing cards are great ways to pass the time on your own.
Of course, avoiding stores is best if you can. If not, use precautions when you head out to the store, like wearing gloves and a mask. Wipe the cart down with hand sanitizer or sanitary wipes. Avoid touching your face, and always wash your hands when you return home.
For elderly people, it’s great to know that Willowbrook’s Whole Foods in Chicago, Gelson’s and Altadena in Los Angeles, Shop & Stop, a grocery chain in the Northeast are among the many stores across the country are setting a great example by allocating certain exclusive hours for elderly shoppers.
Staff members at Greenville County Meals on Wheels are working overtime, keeping their clients fed and cared for in this time of uncertainty. Workers there are doing double duty and starting new safety procedures for themselves and their volunteers.
Jayde Powell is one of the heroes out there who want to help. She started a group called Shopping Angels. Shopping Angels is a community program designed to provide services to those populations deemed especially at-risk for the COVID-19 virus. Volunteers pick up groceries and other shopping necessities for those who may prefer to stay within the safety of their own home.
Where to Shop Online
- Harbor Freight, Hardware-Paint-Auto Stores, and Online – (Masks, Goggles, Gloves)
- Walmart – (All Household Goods)
- Costco, local grocery stores with online sites – (Food, Water)
- Whole Foods – (Immunity Supplements)
- Amazon – (Anything Else)
What To Stock Up On
Masks, Gloves, Hand Sanitizer, Wipes, Sprays, Medications
- If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection.
- Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
- Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
The cheapest and least likely to be sourced so far for masks is a tool retailer named Harbor Freight Tools. They have 1000 stores in the USA, so there is one nearby. They sell (2) N95 respirator masks for $3 which is a very good deal.
Gloves: Harbor Freight is also great for disposable gloves. They sell much thicker and harder to shear gloves in 5mm, 7mm, and 9mm thicknesses, in packs of 50 or 100.
Hand Sanitizer, Spritzers, and Wipes: They can be found in drug, camping, hunting, sports stores as well as grocery stores and many other types of retailers. You can also just buy grain alcohol or even vodka from a liquor store and put it in a spray bottle, or use rubbing alcohol from a drug store. You’ll want them everywhere on your person, car, home, office, etc. Wipes are useful when you must handle a surface you are unsure of. Use the grocery store kind in a pull-out plastic tub for one time use, such as door handles, elevators, and use thick ones to clean down surfaces.
- Contact your healthcare provider to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications to have on hand in case there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community and you need to stay home for a prolonged period of time.
- If you cannot get extra medications, consider using a mail-order option.
- Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
- Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.
- First aid kit.
Canned or Shelf Stable Foods
Obviously this is important. If you don’t have time and just buy a lot of one thing, you should buy a bottle of Multivitamins. Bare minimums: with salt, with bags of Sugar, Honey, Olive Oil, and Powdered Eggs or Milk, you can survive pretty long, as a cheap way out. If you are interested here is a list of “forever foods”, 15 years or more: https://offgridworld.com/22-foods-that-will-last-forever/
Pantry Plus Freezer
This assumes you have electricity and things are not SHTF, which we do expect them not to be.
- Grains and pasta
- Veggies and beans
- Meat & protein
- Snacks – Power bars are a great way to satisfy with a little crunch and some nutrition.
- Coffee and Tea
- Stock up also on instant coffee and tea, if you drink them.
- Pet Food
- Don’t forget your kitty or doggie food, litter, etc.
The best defense is to have strong immune systems. Whole Foods or natural foods stores, and health food Stores is where you want to go. Some of this you may need to order online.
- Chinese Skullcap
- Elderberry Syrup
- Justicia Adhatoda
- Vitamin C, D, K
- Colloidal Silver
- Adjustable wrench
- You can probably get it as a low-quality kit from any hardware store. But also have:
- 3/4’” wood screws
- 2 ½” wood screws
- Duct tape
- This is for putting things together ad hoc. You can top it off with:
- Cordless Drill and Impact Driver Combo (or just a drill, even corded that’s cheaper)
- Drill Bits
- Staple Gun
- ½” Ceiling Tile Staples
With that, you should be able to disassemble, reassemble, rearrange most of your home actually, and set up new configurations, like a temporary ward if someone is sick.
Whether it’s Butane or Propane, gas is very helpful even in short power outages.
- Small generators
How to Wear Masks
The ins and outs of protective gear and how to not infect yourself or others:
The collective experience of ex-military and other professionals helped us dial this down for civilians. It’s not doomsday prep, but coronavirus prep.
Typical N95 Mask with Exhaust Valve
It is best to use disposable “N95” or higher filtration spec masks, such as N100, R95, R100, P95, and P100. Disposable respirators are designed for single-use, so you will need 30–50, depending on how many times you go in and out of potentially contaminated places. It should be discarded every time from returning from the outside before coming inside.
Gas Mask Respirator for Painting (“P” type)
A lot of the preppers crowd have gotten full-on face shields or full-face respirators (gas masks). While they generally seal much better and cover more of the face, they have to be decontaminated and that’s very tricky, also, at the very least the respirator pads would need to be swapped out every outing, and then the whole device needs to be cleaned of viruses, very tricky, So you would need two sets if going out regularly. Decontamination could be submerging in alcohol, bathing in UV ultraviolet light class C, or both, other ways. Very time and resource-intensive for uncertain increased security. It is your choice.
More information is available from the WHO:
How to Handle Cell Phones
One final tip, we recommend you never handle your cell phone outside your home or in a designated “green zone”. It is probably the easiest way to goof up and cross-contaminate yourself. If you must handle, you should then treat the phone itself as “red zone” and sterilizing it over and over may or may not be effective, we actually don’t know. It is a complex surface area many crevices not even including the case and it’s not reasonable to be certain it is completely “wiped down”.
If you need medical attention:
The VA: A group of senators has requested information on the VA’s efforts to increase its response time and preparedness as cases are expected to climb among veterans, who tend to be older and have underlying medical conditions that put them at greater risk. As of midday Monday, 30 were confirmed or presumed to have the virus and one, a veteran in his 70s in Oregon, had died.
Older veterans, who make up a large portion of the department’s patient base, as well as those with very difficult injuries and illnesses like spinal cord injuries and kidney failure, need special and acute care and sometimes rely on private contractors for things like dialysis. Those patients are likely to be the department’s focus if supplies dwindle in the American health care system.
“The V.A. has some very talented people who work on emergency preparedness,” said David J. Shulkin, a former secretary of veterans affairs. “This is their time to shine.”
Virtual Care is a great option:
Last year, veterans had over 20 million virtual engagements with VA. Any vet who qualifies to receive care from the VA is eligible to use virtual care. Staying home can actually be easier for you and safer for the community by helping contain the spread of infectious diseases. Check out this site for helpful information:
Finally, something any vet knows about: Common sense. This situation is not forever, but it is critical for the next two months that we hunker down and avoid large functions, parties, get-togethers of more than a half dozen people. Wash your hands often, use hand sanitizer if it’s available to you. If you get a delivery, wash your hands after you receive it and after you open it.
If you know of another vet in need, reach out. We are a community that needs acknowledgment and support. We have all faced extraordinary challenges in service which will help us get through this difficult time too.
You can find more information on COVID-19 safety here. For the latest information, please visit the CDC website at cdc.gov/covid19.