As the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic spreads across the globe, one organization currently in talks with VA as a potential partner is providing helpful information and resources to Veterans and the public. The American Lung Association (ALA) is working to save lives. Specifically, it is improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research.

The virus that causes COVID-19 affects the respiratory system. ALA’s expertise in this area enables the organization to share science-based information to all Americans during this public health crisis.

According to ongoing VA research on respiratory health, Veterans may suffer from respiratory diseases due to exposure to respiratory hazards in combat. Those diseases include lung cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They place Veterans at greater risk for additional harm from COVID-19.

ALA is working to do several things in light of the pandemic. All are designed to educate the public, including Veterans, on ways to stay safe. ALA also supports relief efforts and provide a forum for individuals to ask questions of experts directly.

The organization is accomplishing these goals by:

  • Hosting 30-minute webinar updates every Monday at 1 p.m. CT, which will provide new information on COVID-19 and address questions from individuals living with chronic lung diseases.
  • Creating its COVID-19 Action Initiative, a $25 million investment that will work with public and private entities to increase research collaboration and develop new vaccines, detection tests, and treatment therapies.
  • Promoting its Lung HelpLine (1-800-LUNGUSA) and online submission form for people to ask questions about lung diseases and COVID-19, as well as smoking cessation.
  • Sharing up-to-date information on topics such as COVID-19 signs and symptoms, stopping the spread, and addressing myths about lung illnesses on its blog, “Each Breath.”

Working to minimize the risk to all

ALA’s National President and CEO is Harold P. Wimmer. Wimmer says, “We are working to provide information and support to minimize the risk to all. We’re especially concerned about those with a lung disease like asthma, COPD, or lung cancer. After all, those individuals are at higher risk for more severe symptoms or complications from COVID-19.”

Dr. Tracy L. Weistreich is the acting director of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of Community Engagement (OCE). OCE supports partnerships throughout VA and VHA. Weistreich spoke to the importance of ALA’s work right now.

“Many Veterans already suffer from respiratory illness and would find ALA’s resources beneficial even outside the context of a global pandemic. During COVID-19, though, these resources are especially valuable. As is the case with partnerships between VA and other nonprofit organizations, ALA can contribute to helping Veterans by adding to the services VA is already providing.”

For more information on ALA’s work, visit

For more on OCE’s work and partnerships, visit

Randolph C. Moler is a licensed clinical social worker with the Office of Community Engagement.

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Published on Jul. 10, 2020

Estimated reading time is 2.4 min.

Views to date: 307


  1. Toni Lynn White July 15, 2020 at 11:16 pm

    I have Bronchiectasis, am I at a greater risk? I really don’t understand much about the disease. I don’t like asking my Dr.’s questions.

  2. Jiya Malik July 12, 2020 at 6:11 am

    Thanks a lot for sharing the helpline!! I personally was into a great myth about lung diseases. I was blank to do anything. Suddenly this post was shared by my one relative. After sharing the problem I got rid of this myth and also got mental satisfaction. Thanks a lot…

  3. Kimberly Bishop July 10, 2020 at 10:22 pm

    People with compromised immune systems and respiratory issues like those discussed above are at a greater risk of getting COVID. Hopefully what ALA has planned will help.

  4. Victor Sellers July 10, 2020 at 5:23 pm

    My lungs were permanently damaged while serving “Boots on Ground” in Vietnam 1971. I was hospitalized a month in May and June 1971 and medivac’d out of Vietnam to Japan for further testing. They never found a cause for my conditions so they listed me as allergic to Chloroquine, but my treatment records prove I had no allergy or reaction to Chloroquine, but I did have all the symptoms of exposure to Agent Orange. I was rehospitalized with respiratory problems while still on duty seven or eight months after Vietnam and have had respiratory problems ever since Vietnam. I have been diagnosed with emphysema, asthma, lung nodules, spotted lungs, COPD, but the VA still denies any service connection, but I maintain it is DIRECT SERVICE CONNECTION, and the treatment records prove it. My medical records were completely and purposely withheld for 45 years, and many are still withheld 50 years later. They fall Under the Deliberative Process Privilege so how do I get the medical information. None of them were ever lost, but I have been told so and deceived since February 4, 1972.

  5. Larry Moore July 10, 2020 at 11:17 am

    During this whole Covid-19 not one person has contacted me to see how I was doing.Don’t seem to care.I have COPD/Emphysema.

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