US House passes legislation to give COVID vaccine to all veterans through VA

‘It is just kind of ridiculous that you couldn’t go get a shot,’ says Livonia veteran

The U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to rush the vaccine to all U.S. veterans, but as work continues to make those changes, other local veterans are being turned away still.

LIVONIA, Mich. – Don Schimmel, 93, is a Navy World War II veteran who was turned away when he tried to get vaccinated.



The VA in Ann Arbor said that he makes too much money to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Now we’re seeing a change. The U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to rush the vaccine to all U.S. veterans, but as work continues to make those changes, other local veterans are being turned away still.

Tim Flynn was in the U.S. Navy in the 1980s. He had a very tough job to do for the country and it sticks with the Livonia resident every day.

“We flew bodies back and forth to ships for two days,” Flynn recalled.

In 1983, a truck bomb terror attack killed 241 American service members in Beruit. Flynn helped escort the bodies from land to ship on a helicopter.

Now, at age 57, he asked the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for a COVID-19 vaccine. The VA turned him down due to income limits set by Congress.

“It is just kind of ridiculous that you couldn’t go get a shot,” Flynn said.

A Democratic and a Republican elected official in Congress saw that veterans were being turned down on income and pointed out that a World War II veteran would be turned away.

Schimmel could not believe that at age 93, the VA said he made too much month and turned him down for a COVID shot.

He got his first shot at a clinic in Lenaway County.

The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the VA Vaccine Act, providing a COVID shot for any veteran, regardless of income.

The U.S. Senate is pushing for the and are including veteran spouses and caregivers.

Until Washington, D.C. makes those changes official, Flynn remains on waiting lists all over Metro Detroit.

“You can’t get shots anywhere, it seems,” Flynn said.

As Congress works on changing the law to get a vaccine for veterans, they also are working on delivering more vaccines to VAs to get ready for the vets.

READ: Michigan COVID-19 vaccinations: How to find appointments, info on phases


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About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.