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Local nonprofit supporting veterans during COVID-19

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DULUTH, MN -- The pandemic has impacted everyone, but veterans are hit especially hard.

For people like Vietnam War Veteran Ryan Jost, Veterans Day is a chance to commemorate their service, but times have been tough.

"It's more difficult, just like it is for everyone. However, the VA system has been pretty much shut down, the hospital and that sort of thing, so our care has fallen back, again, like everyone else," Jost said.

As of Wednesday, the VA reported more than 4,200 deaths from COVID-19 nationwide.

It is a problem worrying Kevin Beichler, Northern Regional Leader for Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV).

"With the COVID and the pandemic, we're worried about the safety and the health of those individuals," Beichler said.

MACV provides housing, legal aid, and employment assistance to veterans in need.

Beichler said social distancing and stay home advisories could make veterans' mental health problems worse.

"If they're suffering with some sort of depression because of the lockdown, a lot of it has to do with their health conditions, they just won't leave their facilities," he said.

Beichler said many veterans are at higher risk from COVID-19. He wants them to know his team is here to help.

"Let's get you moving forward," Beichler said. "Let's get you stable. Let's get you into life that you should be enjoying."

For Jost, it's about connecting however they can, so no one has to fight COVID-19 alone.

"We're a close-knit group," Jost said. "We do a lot of things together, socializing and just events."

MACV has seen a recent spike in veterans requesting assistance, which is typical for late fall. Beichler said they have added resources to help meet the demand.

Click here to access MACV resources for veterans or call 833-222-6228.

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Kendall Jarboe

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