More than 40% of the deaths so far attributed to the coronavirus nationwide have been nursing homes residents and staff. The number of coronavirus-related deaths that have happened at veterans nursing homes, however, is less clear.
Notably, many veterans nursing homes are not actually operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Instead, they are owned and run by the states in which the veterans homes are located. The VA does contribute about $1 billion per year to these veteran nursing homes across the country.
According to a group of veterans that assembled to investigate these deaths in the 162 state-run veterans homes, data were only available for 47 of those homes located in 34 states. At those facilities, 1,011 veteran residents’ deaths were attributed to the coronavirus. The highest number of deaths were reported at a veterans home in Holyoke, Massachusetts and Paramus, New Jersey, both with more than 80 deaths associated with the coronavirus. More than 60 such deaths were reported by veterans homes in Maryland, Menlo Park, New Jersey, and Long Island, New York.
Because these homes are run by the individual states, they are not required to report these deaths to the Department of Veterans Affairs and those numbers are not included in the number of coronavirus-related deaths at VA-run facilities. While there have been Congressional hearings regarding the number of death at VA-run facilities, so far there does not appear to be much oversight or curiosity about the number of deaths at the state-run veterans homes by the legislatures of their respective states.