The Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs announced a partnership with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to provide a free mask to veterans in Utah who don’t have one.

As part of the ‘A Mask for Every Utahn’ initiative, a public-private partnership, veterans who request a free mask will be mailed one free of charge.

Any Utah veteran can request a mask at coronavirus.utah.gov/mask. If the veteran selects the option of identifying themselves as veterans, they’ll be designated for prioritized delivery.

“We’re grateful for the Department of Veterans & Military Affairs and for the partnership as we work together to provide a free mask to Veterans in Utah,” said Val Hale, GOED’s executive director. “Our veterans’ service does not go unnoticed, and we’re proud to play a small part in helping to keep them and those around them safe as we continue to fight COVID-19.”

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans may be exposed to a wide variety of hazards and potentially harmful substances during military service that may cause health problems. Some of these harmful substances, such as Agent Orange, are linked directly with underlying conditions known to increase the risk for COVID-19.

“After surveying our veteran’s community, we realized that some of our high-risk veterans might lack easy access to a mask,” said Gary Harter, executive director of the Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs. “We want to do everything we can to ensure our veterans feel safe as more people return to everyday activities.”

Masks, along with social distancing, play an important role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 as Utah works to reactivate the economy. Gov. Gary R. Herbert has encouraged all Utahns to wear a mask in public when social distancing is not possible.

The ‘A Mask for Every Utahn’ initiative already worked with the Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs to deliver more than 400 masks in early May to the residents of Utah’s four veterans homes, which are operated and managed by Avalon Healthcare.

It may take several weeks for masks to be delivered. Individuals may request up to six masks per household.