VA's Compassionate Contact Corps program matches volunteers with lonely, socially isolated veterans

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new program is matching volunteers with veterans who may be lonely or socially isolated.

The Department of Veterans Affairs' Compassionate Contact Corps started in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has expanded from eight to more than 50 VA facilities.

"Loneliness is really a critical issue right now, not just with veterans but globally," Prince Taylor, Deputy Director for the VA Center for Development & Civic Engagement. "Part of the problem is a lot of people don't event want to admit that they are lonely. Until we get rid of that stigma it's harder for us to make the connections we need, particularly for our veterans."

More than 1,500 veterans have been matched since the virtual program started in 2020. And in 2021, more than 700 volunteers made over 13,000 calls to veterans.

According to VA neurologist, Dr. Indira Subramanian, "loneliness is as bad for you as smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day." And U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has called loneliness a "public health crisis."

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