Aging Veterans experiencing poverty continue to be one of the hardest-hit groups by the pandemic. The COVID restrictions implemented back in 2020 forced society’s internet usage to surge. Sadly, older Veterans with limited to no computer skills continue to be deprived of vital resources, most of which in 2020, were exclusively online. Still, many are also cut-off from legal service providers who help older Veterans have their basic human needs met (e.g., food security, stable housing, etc.). Below is an excerpt from our testimony illuminating the significance of aging Veterans accessing vital free legal services during the digital divide crisis broaden by the pandemic.
“COVID-19 has been devastating for the older veteran population, and we have experienced significant shifts in terms of intake flow and reported legal issues from our older veterans. Early on, it was a struggle to reach and connect to older veterans. Our clients, who were used to us being in the community – at different veteran sites as well as the VA – suddenly lost that connection, and the technological innovations we used to connect with younger veterans were simply not as effective with the older population. It took the creation of new hotlines and campaigns with our partners to make sure older veterans knew we were still at their side. Once we connected, the first wave of calls came from veterans fearful of losing their homes, a problem that has been postponed thanks to the eviction moratorium, but continues to leave our older veterans in precarious positions.”