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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Here's something to think about on Veterans Day: As tough as the pandemic has been on most Americans, it has hit many U.S. veterans especially hard and made their struggles with mental health even tougher.

The big picture: Isolation during the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in increased instances of depression and suicide among veterans as coronavirus cases spike all over the country.

  • "Sleep problems, post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression are the top reported problems for the injured veteran population, and these are some of the challenges that are being exacerbated by COVID-19," said Melanie Mousseau, vice president of program operations and partnerships at the Wounded Warrior Project.
  • "Not only is this a population that struggles with, day after day, working through those challenges — now this is being amplified."

Driving the news: A number of recent studies highlight the problems facing veterans as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.

  • According to one recent survey of 30,000 veterans wounded after 9/11, 52% said their mental health has gotten worse and 49% said their physical health has become worse since they started social distancing during the pandemic.
  • Sixty-one percent said they felt more disconnected from friends, family and community, according to the survey by the Wounded Warrior Project.
  • Veterans are delaying doctors' appointments too, with 70% reporting having in-person appointments canceled or postponed. And 40% noted employment difficulties.
  • The Associated Press reported in September that military suicides have gone up as much as 20% this year compared to the same period in 2019.
  • A study by the Bob Woodruff Foundation this spring said emergent trauma, loneliness due to social isolation, and unplanned job losses creates a "perfect storm" threatening the mental health of veterans.

By the numbers: Beyond the stress caused by the pandemic, coronavirus cases are up among veterans, too. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there have been 83,383 cases among VA hospitals with 4,223 known deaths.

The bottom line: As the pandemic spreads — and gets even worse during the winter months — don't forget the unique damage it's inflicting on those who have served our country.

Go deeper

Updated Mar 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden Cabinet tracker: Which nominees have been confirmed

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

All of President Biden's Cabinet nominees have now been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The big picture: Biden now has known, trusted people around him, many from the Obama administration, to help implement his policies and turn away from the tumultuous Trump years.

The front-runners for Biden's Supreme Court pick

Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson (left) and Justice Leondra Kruger (right) Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images and Lonnie Tague, US Department of Justice

Two highly accomplished Black female judges — Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Leondra Kruger, a justice on the California Supreme Court — are seen as the early front-runners to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

The big picture: Jackson is a powerful federal judge with a record that progressives feel they can trust. Kruger was a highly regarded litigator and has carved out a reputation for working well with conservative judges.

Fed: Rate hikes are near

The Federal Reserve's headquarters building. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve is on track to raise its main target interest rate in mid-March, as Chair Jerome Powell pledged to be "humble and nimble" in adapting policy to a fast-changing economy.

Why it matters: Fed leaders are looking to choke off inflation by raising interest rates in the near future, but keeping its options open for how fast and far the effort will go.