COVID Vaccines for our Veterans

By Ventura Tounsel, Commander

As an influx of veterans seek the COVID-19 vaccine as it becomes available at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals, many want clarity on when and where they will be able to get their vaccines. Under a plan developed by VA in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and federal guidelines, VA is disseminating the vaccine through a phased plan.

Under the current plan, VA health-care personnel, veterans living in VA long-term care facilities and veterans who are at higher risk for serious complications or death due to COVID-19 can get their vaccines now. These high-risk veterans include those with chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, in-patient spinal cord injuries and disorders, and those with comorbidities. Additionally, family caregivers who are enrolled in the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers are eligible for vaccination when the veteran they care for becomes eligible, according to VA.

Due to a larger percentage of high-risk patients within the VA health-care system compared to the public, it may take longer for veterans not at an increased risk to receive their vaccine. In some instances, it may be faster for a veteran to receive a vaccine through their state rather than through VA.

To be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine through VA, a veteran must be enrolled in the VA health-care system. However, veterans attempting to enroll in VA health care for the first time who fall into category 8g, will not be eligible for the vaccine as they are also not currently eligible for VA health care.

As more vaccines become available, VA plans to offer free COVID-19 vaccines to all veterans receiving VA health care who want one. If you are a veteran who is not currently enrolled or receiving health care through VA, visit their web page to apply.

For additional information, contact our American Legion service officer, Matt Johnson at 815-348-2171. Matt is specially trained to provide expert assistance, free of charge, to veterans and their families.


By Charlotte Herdliska, Corona de Tucson Fire Department

With spring on its way in Southern Arizona, bees will be busy gathering pollen, and, occasionally forming giant, somewhat alarming clusters which are often found on tree branches. This swarming behavior can be frightening but is not necessarily dangerous to people.

Many community residents have asked about bee swarms; here is what I know:

There are two types of bee swarms. The most common type is a reproductive swarm, which happens when a colony of bees outgrows its nest or hive. A new queen will be hatched, and the original queen and about two-thirds of the worker bees will fly off together in search of a new home. While traveling they will stop to rest, most often they will cluster together for a time, and this mass of bees is what is commonly found hanging on a tree limb or other structure in a large ball. They are resting; this usually lasts a few hours to a couple of days.
Reproductive swarms are usually docile and will not normally attack. However, swarms consist of thousands of bees, and if the swarm is in a populated area, the flying insects can get tangled in people’s hair or clothing. If bees get trapped or stuck, they can become alarmed and may sting. If the bees feel threatened, entangled for instance, or if they are being attacked by something they will defend their Queen to the death. Please do not disturb the bees, we need them as pollinators. Please do not spray water or chemicals, do not throw stuff at the cluster. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. Teach your children to stay calm and leave them alone, they will be gone soon.

In an emergency call 911.
For bee removal consult your local directory or better yet go to: for qualified professional bee removal service. Your local Fire Marshal will be happy to answer your questions and or direct you to an appropriate information source.

The Southern Arizona Beekeeping Association is dedicated to maximizing public safety through education and community engagement with regard to wild honeybee colonies. Tragically each year in the United States and beyond, several people are killed due to unintentional disturbance of honeybee colonies. We are both saddened and very concerned when this occurs. A large number of these attacks are preventable, and there are various strategies that you can employ to reduce the likelihood of injury. Developing an ongoing plan of action to reduce potential hazards requires broad and proactive community outreach with accurate information.

Most common places where bees build their combs:

Irrigation and water meter boxes – The hole provided for a padlock is a favorite entrance. Rip-rap around the box allows access points. These boxes are essentially swarm traps placed at every residence and in all rights-of-ways where public utilities are needed. We have established a vast network of them throughout the city, and very few are actually locked at any given time.

Care to reduce your liability as a landscaping company? Keeping the lock hole on irrigation and water meter boxes sealed with duct tape, wire mesh, or stuffed with steel wool is among the easiest ways to reduce the number of swarms establishing around urban areas. Good contact between the box and surrounding soil is essential.

Under shed floors – Swarms like to access fairly insulated spaces through thin gaps and attach combs under the flooring between two floor joists where they can reach a fairly large population due to ample space.

Filling the space between the floor joists is the best solution if you are building and placing yourself. Otherwise, some means of sealing all cracks between the ground and the wooden support is the best bet.

Attic, soffit spaces, and patio overhangs – The screen covering “bird board” or “frieze board” frequently falls out or gets damaged, giving bees direct access to large cavities between ceiling joists. Gaps between wood supports are also common due to constant expansion and contraction of wood due to moisture content and house settling over time. Swarms only need ¼” gap to access a cavity.

Inspect all screens to ensure they are in place before and after swarm season, and keep all gaps between support beams and boards sealed tight with a type of caulk or other wire mesh.

Eroded wash bank cavities – Wash banks and other ground cavities are sources of large numbers of wild colonies. Washes and river systems are a primary way that AHB can extend it’s reach into new territory. These areas are the first to green up and produce food for honey bees since it’s where water collects.

Limited leaky fixtures or other sources of water can help. Fortunately, except for hikers, ranchers, or construction workers, people do not frequent washes nearly as much as the other locations noted. These areas would be prime location for placement of colonies meant to produce gentle drones.

Block perimeter walls – Over time block walls crack when the footing is compromised, giving bees access to the hollow spaces in the block which are rarely filled in with concrete.

Keep all cracks patched or backfill interior spaces with sand or other material.

Vigas and exterior stucco walls – Vigas (wood poles) crack due to moisture changes and sun exposure, and provide an entrance through the exterior stucco and into the hollow wall.

Inspect before and after spring to keep all cracks leading into the wall patched with a caulk material.

*Hollow tree or saguaro cavities – *Certain trees are prone to hollowing out as they age. The extent of the resulting cavity is frequently hard to determine which makes the hive location and size hard to assess unless a lot more time and creativity is employed. Dealing with heavy sections of trees is also dangerous.

*Keep all hollow spaces filled and avoid planting certain types of trees.

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