Valley and Village News looks to community for story input


Last updated 1/13/2022 at 6:28pm

Kim Harris

Managing Editor

Recently, several people have reached out to Valley News and Village News regarding the difficulties they are facing with the Department of Veteran Affairs and getting quality health care after serving in the military.

From one man being listed with the Department of Veterans Affairs as pregnant woman to another being erroneously told he had a life-threatening disease, according to those who have contacted Valley News, the list of inaccuracies and discrepancies continues to grow to the point where it is affecting the lives of many.

Since one of the major roles of a newspaper is to hold the government accountable and due to this influx of complaints, the Valley News and Village News have begun working on a series of stories addressing the needs, challenges and stories of veterans relating to health care, and we need the help of our readers to do so.

If you have a story to tell, good or bad, please send the basic details or an outline of your experience to [email protected] and include your contact information along with the town you live in. 

The VA isn’t the only area raising concerns with readers. As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, staff are looking to talk to those who have experienced complications or adverse effects from the COVID-19 vaccine or its booster shots. We have heard many stories of those suffering from long-term COVID and stories from those who have lost loved ones due to the pandemic and even from the vaccine itself. Guess what, Valley News and Village News want to talk to you, too.

Just last week, The Associated Press reported that more than 3,000 soldiers, airmen and Marines had been discharged after refusing the vaccine, that large of a number not only affects the families of those service members discharged, it also affects military readiness, which the Pentagon said is not a matter of concern.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is most concerned with “the readiness of the force and the importance of the vaccine,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters. Getting the vaccine, he said, is “the best way to protect themselves and their units.”

At least 12,000 service members have asked for religious exemptions, none of which have yet been granted. Religious exemptions are “always rare,” Kirby told reporters, Wednesday, Dec. 8, before deflecting the question and telling reporters to contact each branch of the military.

“I would ask you to speak to the services about their exemption policies,” he said. “That’s not something that’s centrally managed at the Secretary’s level.

“This has absolutely nothing to do with trampling on the religious liberties of our men and women in uniform,” he said. “… This is not about liberties. It’s about a military medical requirement to keep them safe, to keep their family safe, to keep their units safe. ... And just because none have been approved doesn’t mean that they can’t still be applied for. As we’ve said in the past, and not everybody, look, there’ll be some medical exemptions.”

But according to many who have contacted Valley News and Village News, military readiness could potentially become a real problem as more and more service members are denied exemptions and ultimately discharged due to their refusal of the vaccine.

Valley News and Village News wants to talk to those who have been affected by their refusal to take the vaccine, not just members of the military and encourages all to share their story by email with [email protected]

Because of the current political climate, it has been Valley News and Village News’ experience that many wish to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. Both Valley News and Village News are prepared to protect the identity of those who come forth and share their stories after verifying their identity and adverse effects or experiences.

Kim Harris can be reached by email at [email protected]

Julie Reeder contributed to this story.


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