Vets deserve better than confusion on defense funding and VA staffing

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

June 29, 2024

Once a bipartisan process, the [National Defense Authorization Act] barely passed the U.S. House this month. The reason: Republican members of Congress attached agenda-driven amendments to it, ranging from restrictions on military access to abortion services to banning the display of pride flags and books that address gender identity.      

Party-line votes on defense spending measures send the wrong message to our troops. And it couldn’t come at a worse time, as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs struggles to address the needs of those who put their lives on the line to defend our country.

The VA has announced 10,000 staffing reductions for the next fiscal year — cutbacks that will burden an already stressed healthcare system and adversely impact those who wear or have worn the uniform. …

[T]he use of the NDAA as a political weapon sends a distasteful signal by creating confusion and uncertainty for our veterans.  

Hindering access to quality care for our American heroes by eliminating thousands of jobs at the VA only adds insult to injury. 

Misuse of opioid settlement funds repeats tobacco-era missteps

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

June 5, 2024

More than 107,000 people died of a drug overdose last year — enough to fill nearly every seat in the nation’s largest college football stadium at the University of Michigan. It’s a number that should make us stop in our tracks and recognize that drug addiction in America is a national emergency.  

This grim statistic should also remind states and municipalities of the responsibility they share as they decide how to spend billions pouring in from legal settlements with pharmaceutical companies — $50 billion over 15 years to be more precise.  …

These funds can make a difference. They can save lives, prevent suffering and begin the process of alleviating the day-to-day trauma experienced by families and communities ravaged by drug addiction. 

For this to be true, however, states will need to allocate the money to attack the very problem that caused the settlements in the first place. …

Some states have used the money to replace existing funding for addiction programs and services, shifting previously dedicated resources to other state and local needs. …

Lessons from the historic master settlement agreement between states and the tobacco industry should loom large. 

The inhumane criminalization of homelessness won’t solve the problem

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

May 4, 2024

Body language from the U.S. Supreme Court suggests cities could soon criminalize the homeless as a way to address the growing problem of outdoor encampments. No one wants to be homeless, and everyone agrees something must be done — but inhumane approaches such as these won’t solve America’s housing crisis.  

Viewing homeless people as criminals for having nowhere to go reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of what we need to do to address a system that’s failed our country’s most needy constituency. …

City and federal officials have historically focused on treating the conditions of homelessness rather than addressing its pathways. Issuing citations or pushing the homeless down the road to another jurisdiction is akin to giving an aspirin to someone with a broken foot.  …

There is good news: a proven model already exists to reduce homelessness in America. It just takes a willingness on the part of Congress to fund it and make it a priority. 

Deepfake victims must punish Big Tech because Congress won’t

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

April 12, 2024

Concern over AI deepfakes has largely focused on their use in perpetrating election interference in this year’s U.S. presidential race. But they raise a more depraved problem that should scare all of us: deepfake pornography, where software programs accessible by a simple online search can turn an innocent image of an unwitting individual into a sexualized scene or video that can be posted online without consent.  …

Social media companies have proven they can’t police themselves, but Congress can. They can amend the Communications Decency Act to hold social media companies liable when deepfake pornographic images are published on their platforms. They can pass bills, such as the Preventing Deepfakes of Intimate Images Act and the Shield Act, which would make the circulation of deepfake pornography a crime. They can pass the Defiance Act, which would enhance deepfake pornography victims’ rights.  

But Congress has gutlessly failed to act on any of these measures.

As long as Congress remains impudent in standing up to them and as long as social media companies fight tooth and nail to evade responsibility, victims should drown them in litigation.  

Maybe then, and only then, they’ll get the message that the burden is on them to solve this crisis. 

Biden’s letting election-year politics hold back the menthol ban

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

March 14, 2024

[I]t came to light last month that Robert Califf, the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, had privately urged fellow public health professionals to pressure the White House to make good on its 2021 pledge to ban menthol cigarettes.  

Califf likely didn’t intend for those conversations to end up in Politico. But the fact he encouraged his network to lobby President Biden to honor that 2021 commitment reveals the FDA is at odds with its own administration’s attempts to stall implementation of the years-old Biden-proposed regulation.    

Why has the Biden administration dragged its feet on this important public health initiative? Because a vast majority of Black smokers use menthols, and in an election year, when every vote matters, President Biden can ill-afford to alienate any potential constituency.  …

Last year, the Biden administration twice delayed its 2021 decision to ban menthols and kicked the can to this March for implementation. March is now here, so the question is: Will the Biden White House continue to value tobacco company profits over the health of thousands of Black Americans?  

Congress’s big show of protecting kids online stopped when the cameras did

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

February 21, 2024

Just a few weeks ago, Senate lawmakers displayed a rare glimpse of bipartisanship when they grilled the CEOs of social media platforms on being asleep at the switch in protecting children from online predators. The hearings were intense, and attended by survivors, family members and advocates. …

In the weeks since the American people have waited patiently for legislation to be brought to the Senate floor that would force the companies represented in that room to take these issues seriously. 

It hasn’t happened. Meta, TikTok, X, Snap and Discord continue to generate billions in ad revenue and provide an open playground for perpetrators to prey on children while enjoying “a broad liability shield” that absolves them of responsibility for what takes place on their platforms. A space the companies know to be unsafe for many young people. 

For the companies, it’s business as usual. For those in Congress, it represents a failed moment, a lost opportunity, to govern and work toward a common goal to protect kids and hold companies accountable.  

The unconscionable rejection of food aid for hungry kids is all about politics

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

January 27, 2024

A major public health threat consistently in need of state funding involves access to the most basic human essential — food. In response, the Biden administration recently announced details of a new bipartisan summer program that would provide $2.5 billion in state funding for healthier food options that will help 21 million low-income children when school isn’t in session. …

In a stunning move, 15 governors have said they will reject those funds. That’s not a typo: These state leaders will turn down resources that can help alleviate child hunger in their very own communities. …

Their decision to turn down federal funding is an obvious stunt designed to generate headlines and secure support from their core voter bases. But that political gamesmanship will be lost on the millions of children who won’t have available resources to find healthy food options this summer. …

[It’s] inexcusable. Some issues require elected leaders to override the reflexive desire to score quick points with their voters. Some are too great. Some demand that they listen to their moral compass and put America’s collective good above their political advancement. Some don’t deserve any political debate at all.

Supporting a bipartisan program to provide children access to healthy food is at the top of that list.

The rewards of expedited migrant work permits outweighs the risks

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

December 27, 2023

The holidays are here, and while the decorations on Capitol Hill symbolize a season of giving, lawmakers seem more focused on getting what they want on immigration. 

Every member on Capitol Hill agrees the public health crisis at the southern border is untenable. Those truly committed to addressing the emergency know that it can’t be fixed overnight. …

Strengthening security at the border is important, but it must be part of a holistic approach. This must include measures that advance public health, such as creating a more efficient path to U.S. citizenship, building better living conditions for those stuck at the border, developing more humane ways to keep migrant families together, and establishing ways to connect migrants with host families in the U.S., to name a few.   

Beyond these proposals, a step we can take right now, one that has proven to work, is to expedite the ability for migrants living inside the U.S. to earn a living. Today migrants must wait six months after filing their applications for asylum to apply for a work permit. The faster we speed up this process, the better off they — and America — will be.  

Congress’s posturing on HIV funding threatens 20 years of progress

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

November 28, 2023

This year marks [PEPFAR’s] 20th anniversary — and it’s in jeopardy due to a bitter partisan battle over one of the nation’s most divisive political issues: abortion. …

PEPFAR is considered the largest program by any nation to address a specific disease in history. It has helped prevent HIV infections and contain the spread of the virus in more than 50 countries across the world. And it has increased child immunizations and reduced maternal and child mortality in those areas as well. …

A group of GOP lawmakers claim PEPFAR funding is being routed to organizations that provide abortion services, which the White House denies. The GOP-controlled U.S. House passed a one-year reauthorization for PEPFAR with specific abortion restriction provisions, but its fate in the U.S. Senate is now in doubt. …

As lawmakers return to their districts this holiday season, Congress should remind itself how PEPFAR started, the millions it has saved, the millions more who stand to benefit — and that it’s not a sign of weakness to work together to advance the greater cause of our own humanity.

Loneliness: The silent epidemic hiding in plain sight

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

September 28, 2023

Millions of Americans face a public health threat that’s both overlooked and grossly underdiagnosed. It can’t be detected with a medical test or prevented by a vaccine. It doesn’t have a complex scientific name, dominate news headlines, spark a political debate or require social distancing.  

Social isolation can actually trigger its onset and lead to serious medical consequences including disease and early death. And while it doesn’t bear the hallmarks of other modern-day public health crises, given its wide reach, it demands action by Congress so that vast numbers of people across the nation may live longer, healthier lives.

It’s loneliness.

In New Mexico, ‘Oppenheimer’ offers new hope for long denied compensation

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

August 23, 2023

The movie “Oppenheimer” shows the destruction from the blast of the first atomic bomb, known as the Trinity test, on July 16, 1945, roughly 200 miles south of Los Alamos, N.M.  

Since then, under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), the U.S. government has paid billions to residents of Arizona, Utah and Nevada who experienced downwind health impacts from 100 other aboveground atmospheric nuclear weapons tests that took place in Nevada between 1945 and 1962.

That could soon change. Bipartisan legislation to expand RECA to include New Mexicans living downwind of the explosions has passed the U.S. Senate, partially due to the increased visibility of “Oppenheimer.” Assistance for New Mexico residents is finally a possibility. President Biden this month signaled that he would sign the measure if it were to reach his desk. It’s now up to lawmakers in the U.S. House to make it happen.

The new CDC director’s most critical mission is rebuilding public trust

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

August 3, 2023

President Biden recently appointed Dr. Mandy Cohen as the new director at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the announcement couldn’t have come at a more critical time. Many Americans have lost faith in public health and the agencies that monitor, respond and protect the health of our nation.  …

Responding to complex health problems requires that we trust the leadership of independent experts and organizations like the CDC. But when elected leaders use them as tools to advance political party ideologies, public health suffers.  …

Rebuilding trust in the CDC requires that we rise above politics and see the CDC and its people for who they truly are: committed health advocates serving our shared self-interest. We must treat them as stewards of our collective safety, not governors of our personal freedoms. 

The nation wants to feed hungry students: Congress, make it happen

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

July 5, 2023

When an overwhelming number of Americans support a specific public health policy, as rare as that is these days, you’d think our elected leaders in Washington would rush to pass legislation that reflects the will of their respective voters.  

And when that policy involves the pressing issue of solving child hunger, you’d think Congress would move expeditiously to prevent further suffering endured by a defenseless segment of the U.S. population. 

Unfortunately, that isn’t happening. 

The fate of a bill that addresses this very problem by making free school meals permanent for eligible U.S. recipients is currently in limbo. Research has shown such programs can have a positive impact on student math and English test scores. Nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults support it

Congress has the ability to act, right now, to make it federal law for the upcoming school year. But the bill has stalled, and its future remains in doubt.  

Once again, SNAP is a political football: And Americans suffer for it

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

May 20, 2023

More than half of all students, and nearly 40 percent of all faculty at New Mexico’s higher education institutions don’t have enough food to eat. The findings, from a new state-funded study, reveal troubling statistics representative of a worsening problem across America. New Mexico is taking steps to address it — and other states should pay attention. …

The study is timely, as government programs designed to help those who go hungry every day are currently being politically targeted for elimination. The nation’s food insecure are now pawns in a debt-ceiling showdown between Democrats and Republicans in Congress, where elected leaders are placing their own political agendas above the needs of starving U.S. citizens.  

America’s heinous regression on child labor exploits vulnerable migrants

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

April 19, 2023

Current figures from the U.S. Department of Labor show today’s unemployment rate has dropped to 3.4 percent. It’s good news — low unemployment is typically a leading indicator of a strong U.S. economy. 

But there’s a much darker side to a tight job market: Companies that can’t find (or afford) the people they need are hiring migrant children to fill the void. It’s not just illegal — it’s shameful and inexcusable. …

The White House has apparently known about the growing issue of child migrant labor. HHS has even settled lawsuits with internal whistleblowers who have tried to call attention to it. These settlements should be a wake-up call for the Biden administration to lead and bring the full force of our government to stop the unlawful and inhumane hiring of migrant youth in America.  

America’s EV aspirations are putting human lives at risk

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

March 28, 2023

U.S. companies that still source cobalt from Congo are turning a blind eye to the human rights abuses that support the production of many of their products. Many companies tout their environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices, but they ignore the well-documented realities of industrial and artisanal mining. Meanwhile, the public is largely unaware of the true cost of the phones we use every day, the computers we work on every day and the electric vehicles we may soon drive every day. Our elected leaders need to adopt new policies to ensure these companies act responsibly. …

We have laws in America that prohibit abusive labor practices. Yet at the same time, we are enabling the abuse and mistreatment of hundreds of thousands of people to accelerate our vision of an EV future.

Aren’t we better than this?

Regardless of income, Black women face death to give birth in America

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

March 1, 2023

recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found that the wealthiest women and their infants are more likely to have better childbirth outcomes than those who are not. Unless they’re Black, that is, where new statistics reveal a disproportionate impact on people of color, regardless of income level. …

Experts cite the effects of systemic racism regardless of economic status. Black women encounter “untoward experiences” and face bias by medical professionals, conscious or unconscious. Some of these patients express concerns that their pain won’t be taken seriously. Others fear hospital security may be called based simply on the color of their skin.  

These experiences deny pregnant Black women — those able to pay — from receiving the care they deserve. We can’t ignore it; we must listen, learn and do the necessary work to minimize this community’s unacceptably high risk of pregnancy complications. 

The Inflation Reduction Act alone won’t lower prescription drug costs

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

February 9, 2023

People are choosing between paying for essential medications and putting food on their tables. The Biden administration took steps last year to control runaway prescription drug costs as part of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). But many of the bill’s provisions fall short, and some are years away from helping Americans gain access to drugs at a reasonable cost. …

President Biden should be applauded for doing more than any other president in recent history to try and address the issue of skyrocketing prescription drug prices. The Inflation Reduction Act is an important start — but the problem is nowhere close to being solved.  

Lawmakers must continue to push for faster reductions in prescription drug prices and create incentives for health insurers to cover the widest array of pharmaceutical options on their formularies. Then, and only then, will we have a strong reason to celebrate.

Extending SNAP support should be a no-brainer in this economy

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

January 13, 2023

The Agriculture Improvement Act, known as the farm bill, is up for renewal this year and lawmakers will soon debate whether to extend key provisions that currently help 34 million people suffering from food insecurity in America.  

But in today’s divisive political environment, where 15 voting rounds are needed to elect a Speaker of the U.S. House, the likelihood that our leaders will reach a consensus on this important legislation, sadly, seems entirely unthinkable. …

The bill’s current term, which expires later this year (unless Congress acts), has a total budget of $867 billion, where nearly 80 percent of it funds food stamp programs (now called the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP).  

SNAP is the most important tool we have in combatting America’s hunger crisis. But over the years, its inclusion in the farm bill has been at the center of an ugly tug-of-war between two fiercely divided parties on Capitol Hill. …

As Congress demonstrates where they stand when they debate and vote on this year’s bill, the health and wellbeing of millions of Americans hang in the balance. 

The homeless crisis should be an omnibus bill priority

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

December 16, 2022

Once again we find ourselves on the brink of a government shutdown. As today’s deadline neared, Congressional leaders scrambled to pass a stopgap measure to keep the lights on for another week as they negotiate a bipartisan omnibus bill that would fund the government and advance key initiatives for the next fiscal year. 

The main sticking point centers on how much the U.S. should allocate toward domestic spending. A $26 billion stalemate stands in the way of both parties reaching a consensus, according to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). As lawmakers horse trade and deal make over the next week to avoid a repeat of what occurred in 2019, over a half-million homeless Americans — including many veterans — hope they won’t be a casualty of the current game of chicken taking place on Capitol Hill.

America’s universities are failing students facing mental health crises

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

November 24, 2022

This Thanksgiving, college students across the nation are taking a temporary break from classes to celebrate at home with family and friends. Yet for students struggling with thoughts of suicide and other serious mental health issues, some may be told not to return to campus. … Congress has done little to provide funding to understand the stresses and challenges students are confronting. And many universities aren’t providing students the support they need to be healthy and resilient. 

We’re using 1960s guidance to measure poverty in 2022

U.S. Census Bureau data released this fall sparked national attention over the historic drop in U.S. child poverty statistics for 2021. Many believe these figures will climb again following the expiration of many pandemic stimulus programs. 

Still, lessons can be learned from these numbers regarding what we as a nation can do to lower the suffering millions of Americans face every day. The biggest one: The way we measure poverty in America today is horribly outdated and requires a serious overhaul. 

Hunger was once a bipartisan issue – will it ever be again?

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland


Nearly 50 years ago, President Richard Nixon organized the first White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health where he called on Congress to take action to address America’s hunger crisis. … The Biden administration is preparing to host a similar forum later this month — the first presidential-led initiative of its kind in nearly half a century — to solve this continuing problem. Yet today, we lack the same bipartisan commitment Nixon showed to make this moment count for millions of underserved Americans who face every day without enough food to eat.  … Ending hunger in America is within our reach. Statistics from 2021 prove it can be done. The only thing standing in our way is an expression of political will from both sides to get it done. 

The loss of Roe complicates Biden’s plan for safer pregnancies

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

August 26, 2022

Climate change, deficit reduction and Medicare reform were the headline achievements of President Biden’s landmark Inflation Reduction Act which the president has called “one of the most significant laws in our history.” … Passage of this law now brings renewed hope to Biden’s broader legislative agenda, especially in the field of public health. Part of that push involves an effort by the administration to tackle an issue that for years has disproportionately affected women, especially those of color: maternal mortality. Biden should be commended for focusing energy and federal resources to address it — but timing is everything, as they say, and Biden’s attempt to improve maternal health in America could not have come at a worse moment.

Monkeypox: Have we learned nothing from AIDS or COVID?

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

July 27, 2022

This weekend, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern.” That’s a rare designation from the WHO, one they’ve reserved to describe just two other diseases — COVID-19 and polio. Yet once again, the nation seems blissfully ignorant to the early warning signs of an outbreak that bears striking resemblance to the start of COVID-19 and the AIDS epidemic. …

If COVID-19 proved anything it showed that a piecemeal response to a global health crisis is a recipe for disaster. We need our elected leaders to step forward, declare monkeypox a national emergency, and announce a coordinated approach to confront it. We need more vaccines, more testing centers, more education and more funding. If we don’t act now, we’ll simply repeat the mistakes of the past. 

The domino effect of overturning Roe goes well beyond abortion

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

July 13, 2022

The ripple effects of the U.S. Supreme Court’s move to overturn Roe v. Wade are still being understood as the availability of abortion-related services diminishes rapidly across the country. One of many potential consequences of the court’s decision involves the health of all women, pregnant or not, who reside in nearly half the states that have either banned or significantly limited abortion rights or have similar laws in motion.  

Will an increasing number of medical professionals choose to work in pro-choice states, and cause a decline in the accessibility of medical authorities in states where abortion rights are restricted? As OB-GYNs consider moving across state lines, what impact would their departure have on the availability of general women’s health care in the communities they leave behind? 

How Uvalde broke a three-decade stalemate on gun reform

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

June 17, 2022

The U.S. Senate reached a bipartisan deal to improve gun safety last weekend, representing the most meaningful legislative effort in over 30 years to curb the rising scourge of gun violence in America. The plan’s provisions won’t solve the nation’s gun problem. But it’s an important step in the right direction. …

There’s no reason one plant closure should spark a baby formula crisis

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

May 25, 2022

The Biden administration is pulling every lever to expedite the delivery of baby formula across America. Invoking the Defense Production Act and sourcing supplies overseas through its “Operation Fly Formula” initiative will hopefully bring cans to store shelves over the next few weeks. For worried families, it can’t happen fast enough.  

But there’s the troubling fact that got us here: How could the closure of a single production plant trigger a national public health crisis and throw the entire food supply for millions of American infants into total chaos? And what’s being done to make sure it never happens again? …

Longer-term competition must be fortified so that the closure of one plant doesn’t put us in this same predicament again. At a minimum, we must have contingency plans in place to ensure ready food supplies exist so that American children are not at risk of dying from either unsafe manufacturing or faults in the supply chain. 

The Ukrainian refugee trafficking crisis demands US intervention

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

May 12, 2022

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin recently told reporters Ukraine can win the war “if they have the right equipment, [and] the right support.” From a military standpoint, the U.S. is stepping up, allocating billions in aid to help the country fight the Russian invasion.  

But there’s another war happening in the region that has been largely ignored, one that First Lady Jill Biden witnessed this weekend — a war on women and children. Visiting a school on Mother’s Day with Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska, Biden listened as mothers spoke about the hardships they’ve endured. 

The Biden administration is providing humanitarian assistance, but there has been little focus on one danger women and children face as they flee armed conflict in search of safety: the very real threat of being trafficked. 

Americans want to legalize marijuana – their senators don’t

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

April 20, 2022

Forty years ago, President Reagan famously referred to marijuana as “probably the most dangerous drug in the United States.” Two weeks ago, the U.S. House voted to legalize it, marking the latest chapter in how elected officials have evolved on the issue in recent decades.

Except in the U.S. Senate, that is, where the wall calendars haven’t flipped since 1981 and the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act is expected to stall. The Senate version hasn’t even been introduced and is already facing stiff resistance from the GOP and fellow Democrats alike, further delaying progress to remove cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances.  …

As a growing number of states legalize recreational marijuana it seems odd so many of our elected leaders continue to oppose it. Voters have moved on. The Senate should, too.

Ukrainian Refugees Need More Than Money From US

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland


March 14, 2022

In a rare display of bipartisanship last week, U.S. lawmakers reached an agreement on a government spending bill that will include $4 billion in humanitarian aid to help the two million people who have fled Ukraine from the Russian invasion. It’s a start, but over the long haul, these refugees will need far more from the United States to rebuild their lives. 

After Breyer’s exit, we need another public health pragmatist for SCOTUS

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

February 18, 2022

Justice Breyer was a level-headed pragmatist — one who delivered sober, reasonable decisions on matters with major public health implications. He wrote the majority opinion when the court rejected the Republican effort to challenge the Affordable Care Act. And he opposed ending the COVID-19 moratorium on landlord evictions imposed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, claiming established court procedures weren’t being followed. … We deserve a nominee with the same conviction to protect public health, the same passion to rise above the political fray to restore trust in the court, and the same respect for the rule of law as Breyer. If she embodies these qualities, perhaps her example will set a new standard for her colleagues to follow.

Let’s stop saying ‘breakthrough cases’ – it isn’t helping

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland


Throughout the pandemic, public health experts have communicated critical COVID-19 guidance to the American people in ways that are confounding — and sometimes contradictory. Examples of mixed messages by public health officials since the start of the pandemic are plentiful. From mask practices to back-to-school recommendations to booster shots, confusion and ambiguity have circulated, creating uncertainty at times as to what people can do to stay safe. …

By trumpeting the term “breakthrough cases,” public health authorities are spreading the impression that these infections are novel, unique and unanticipated by the scientific community. In fact, the vaccine was designed precisely with this likelihood in mind, and it is working exactly as intended. …

For leaders to lead, they need people to trust them. To build trust in the vaccine, public health officials need to be clear in how it works. They need to state that though infections can still occur, even after receiving boosters, symptoms will be mild for most Americans — and that such infections are part of the calculus in getting the vaccine, not a reason to question its efficacy. They must avoid and openly challenge terms that reaffirm preconceived beliefs, not perpetuate them in the public discourse.

Miserly Manchin stole Christmas and hope from American families

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland


Last week marked the last enhanced monthly child tax credit payment to millions of disadvantaged Americans thanks to one man in Congress: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). His announcement that he will not support the Build Back Better Act will terminate this critical economic relief, which vulnerable families were counting on to help support themselves next year. …

The extension was moving children out of poverty and providing essential support to families across the country. Families in need don’t care about Republican or Democratic politics: they care about safe housing, paying their bills and feeding their children. …

His role as a Democratic obstacle on spending proposals took priority over his compassion to help struggling Americans make ends meet, including those in his own state. He should be ashamed.

Sen. Manchin: Don’t cut early learning relief for working families

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

November 18, 2021

All eyes will soon be on Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) as the Build Back Better Act moves through Congress. The fiscal Democrat is expected to force program cuts to rein in spending proposals by party progressives in exchange for his support. 

One of the bill’s provisions seeks to provide meaningful early learning opportunities for millions of children and help their families level the economic playing field. The far-reaching impact of these measures is too important to be used as a bargaining chip to secure Manchin’s vote for the broader legislation. …

America needs this investment. The proposed preschool and child care programs will do a world of good. Any attempt to chip away at these provisions, or eliminate them altogether, only undermines the spirit of the Build Back Better Act. 

Millions of children and their families will benefit from these programs. They can’t be casualties of political negotiations to win Manchin’s vote. There’s too much at stake.

Health professionals are quitting in droves – can we blame them?

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

October 30, 2021

The recent discovery of the “delta plus” COVID-19 mutation has many experts worried, especially now with colder months approaching that will soon drive more people indoors. If it spreads and creates another spike in cases this winter, the nation will face a delta of a different kind that will severely hinder our ability to fight it: Fewer public health and medical workers. 

As COVID-19 evolves, our behavior must evolve with it

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

September 9, 2021

President Biden’s order to make third booster shots available to all Americans starting Sept. 20 may have been a well-intended move to try and strengthen immunity against the increasing threat of the delta variant. But the recent resignations of two top U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vaccine officials do not inspire confidence that the White House has removed politics from public health. …

Public health experts don’t have all the answers on COVID-19 because we are not in control of COVID-19. The safety protocols being recommended today to protect ourselves and those around us may be entirely different from those that will be recommended six months from now. As the pandemic changes, we must adapt accordingly by listening, following, and trusting the data. 

But the ability of public health professionals to do their job becomes infinitely harder when elected leaders make proclamations and statements on matters, such as a third booster shot, when the data is still being analyzed. Let’s let science prevail, and give the experts the chance to interpret the results and provide guidance. 

Every American deserves clean drinking water and working sewer systems

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

August 11, 2021

A rare glimpse of bipartisanship was seen in Washington this week as U.S. Senate Democrats and Republicans worked together to advance the long-anticipated infrastructure bill. The debate over how the legislation’s proposed $1 trillion will be allocated will no doubt continue as the bill moves to the U.S. House. But there should be no question over the need to dedicate a meaningful portion of those resources to fix a glaring failure of our nation’s infrastructure that today impacts the safety and health of millions across the nation: unclean drinking water and inadequate sewage systems.

No one wants to say it: We need to mask up again

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

July 25, 2021

No one wants to go back to wearing masks again. But people are dying, and if we can’t voluntarily abide by the public health measures that we know to be effective at minimizing the spread of the pandemic, such as mask-wearing, state and federal mandates must be considered. We must deploy every method possible to reverse the current trend of infection. Continued social distancing, hand washing, increased testing — and yes mask-wearing — must be revisited to save lives and reduce suffering. 

When will we make child dental health a national priority?

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

July 2, 2021

As Congress enters the July 4 recess, the debate over the American Families Plan continues on, and questions remain as to how families will pay their bills, support their kids and afford health care. Missing from the discussion, however, is how America has failed children by ignoring the importance of routine pediatric dental care. And the plan to fix it is nowhere to be found.

We need to prioritize the dental wellbeing of America’s youth, especially in communities of color. We can no longer expect states to put money toward an unfunded federal initiative that’s been ineffectual for nearly a decade. It’s time we have a national plan — with meaningful federal resources — to make it happen.

Make Medicare and Medicaid telehealth coverage permanent

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

June 11, 2021

During the pandemic, under a national emergency declaration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reduced certain regulatory requirements for telemedicine by allowing states and providers to be reimbursed for audio and video visits. … Continuing Medicare and Medicaid coverage for telehealth visits is smart policy. It just makes good common sense. Let’s make it permanent and improve the health and wellbeing of all Americans.

If Congress can’t work together to address child hunger we’re doomed

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

May 12, 2021

President Biden has made it abundantly clear that improving the lives of children will be a focal point of his administration. Just weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched a new initiative that stands to feed over 30 million needy children this summer. And the centerpiece of his proposed American Families Plan is a bold investment in the future of America’s youth by expanding access to early education and child care, and providing economic relief to families through child tax credit extensions.

Another provision of the American Families Plan addresses a critical need the pandemic has further magnified. But it’s one Republicans have historically opposed: expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Whether this increase will survive will depend largely on bipartisan efforts to resolve the national tragedy of food insecurity.

We need laws to stop gun violence, but we need to stop glorifying it, too

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

April 20, 2021

Eight innocent people were killed Friday at an Indianapolis FedEx facility, the latest in a deadly string of mass shootings across the country. There have been at least 156 of them already this year.  … We need to be outraged, not apathetic, when innocent people are killed by gun violence. We need to bristle at, not be enamored by, guns that are routinely dramatized in action movies, video games, music videos and television shows. The less we venerate gun violence in the imagery we see everyday, the less common and familiar it will become. 

We don’t need moments of silence for victims and their families after the next mass shooting. We need actions to reduce the number of guns on the streets and in the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. It will take more than what any individual law in Congress can enforce. It starts by confronting the role guns have in our culture. 

We need to stop glorifying gun violence before we have any chance of ending it. 

Lyndon Haviland confirmed to serve on Board of Regents at Western New Mexico University

“Twenty-five highly-qualified New Mexicans have been nominated by Gov. Lujan Grisham and confirmed by the State Senate to serve on Boards of Regents at public colleges, universities, and special schools across the state.” Full text of the announcement from the New Mexico Higher Education Department at the link below. 

Biden: Declare child sexual abuse a public health emergency

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

April 2, 2021

Last week a group of child health advocates signed an open letter urging President Biden to recognize April 8 as World Day for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention, Healing and Justice. The group is also calling on Biden to create a Presidential Commission to End Sexual Violence Against Children, comprised of “experts including researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and, importantly, adult survivors.” The group is urging Biden to establish the new commission within the first 200 days of his administration. The cosigners, me being one of them, are asking Biden to shine a national spotlight on a topic that has long been considered too taboo for an open discussion — child sexual abuse. 

COVID-19 homelessness is a public health problem – it’s about to get worse

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

March 22, 2021

As we mark the one year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration of the pandemic, we can see signs of long awaited progress. There’s still work to do, but there’s undeniable excitement that we’re headed in the right direction. For America’s homeless, however, there will be little celebration when we reach herd immunity.

Solving the unequal impacts of COVID-19

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

March 4, 2021

The 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19 is a sobering milestone symbolizing America’s failed, 50-state approach in combatting the pandemic. … For the living, the pandemic has revealed stark inequities in accessing the fundamental tools necessary to survive a crisis like this. The ability to stay connected, consume healthy food and receive important health-related services are at the top of the list. 

President Biden: Make equitable vaccine access a national priority

February 12, 2021

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

This week brought encouraging news that nearly 9.1 percent of the U.S. population has already received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. … But an ugly truth lurks beneath the surface of these promising data points: the glaring racial disparity between those who are receiving vaccine shots and those who are not.

Dr. Haviland Interview With The Dan Proft Radio Show

January 28, 2021

Dr. Haviland commented on the current state of vaccine distribution: “Many states have had a little chaos where they were planning for a certain number of vaccinations, and the vaccine supplies have not arrived. It’s very encouraging that the Biden administration has increased their order for vaccines …” (Link to the full interview below)

We need a science-based plan for vaccine distribution

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland


Outgoing Health and Human Services (HHS) Sec. Alex Azar announced last week the U.S. would soon distribute our COVID-19 vaccine stockpile to try and accelerate the pace of U.S. immunizations. 

We now know this reserve has already been depleted and that every available dose is being taken directly from the production line and put into circulation. 

The threat this aggressive strategy presents to public health safety is extraordinary. … Anything that risks a delay in the delivery of a second shot gambles our future. It rests on a belief that, with vaccine production on the rise, the reserve can reach more people. Yet we simply don’t know if manufacturers will have enough time to keep pace and generate more doses for those on-the-clock to receive the second shot.

Military Survivors of Child Sex Abuse Deserve More

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

December 26, 2020

U.S. Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy made headlines this month when he reacted to the findings of an investigation into the climate of violence and sexual harassment at Fort Hood, Texas. “This report, without a doubt,” he said, “will cause the Army to change our culture.” 

If the secretary is true to his word, he will also commit to dismantling the cover-up culture of child sexual abuse at Army posts both here and abroad. The secretaries of the Navy and Air Force should commit to do the same.

Stay afraid of COVID-19

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

December 11, 2020

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in the UK has the world teeming with excitement that the end of the pandemic is near. It isn’t, and we can’t afford to think or act this way.

Rebuilding public trust will instill COVID-19 vaccine confidence

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

November 17, 2020

Moderna’s 94.5 percent vaccine efficacy rate brings renewed hope that a preventative therapy to reduce the spread of COVID-19 may be close at hand. This news is especially welcome as cases continue to spike across the country. But unless the American people trust it (or any of the other vaccines currently under development for that matter), nothing will change.

Serious public health issues await the next POTUS

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

November 2, 2020

As voters go to the polls to select our next commander-in-chief, public health professionals across America are focused on what the president-elect will inherit: a nation in the throes of some of the most difficult and challenging health problems our country has ever faced.

We can’t ignore COVID-19’s impact on youth mental health

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

October 19, 2020

When Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calf.) introduced the Mental Health Services for Students Act back in February 2019, not even she could have imagined how important this bill would be today. Having recently passed the House, it’s now up to the Senate to lead by example and support our nation’s youth, a demographic that has been uniquely impacted by COVID-19. 

France 24 Interview with Dr. Haviland

October 5, 2020 — Dr. Haviland appeared on France 24’s “The Debate” show to discuss public health in the context of President’s Trump’s recent COVID-19 diagnosis.

The impact of Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis on public health

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

October 2, 2020

News today of President Trump’s positive test for COVID-19 should sound the alarm to those who still believe the pandemic is over. Nothing has changed: there is no vaccine, no treatments, and coronavirus respects no boundaries. We must continue to be vigilant, practice social distancing, wear a mask and wash our hands. 

This is a moment for listening to public health professionals — and prioritizing prevention. We must value their guidance over the politicized way their messages are often filtered and renew our commitment to keeping ourselves and those we love safe. 

We have to stop the politicization of public health

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

September 14, 2020

President Trump‘s admission that he sought to “play down” the threat of COVID-19 during the early stages of the pandemic raises unsettling concerns as to whether the administration values its political success over the health and welfare of the nation. 

The biggest question now as scientists work around the clock to develop a safe and efficacious vaccine: will facts and sound science be allowed to guide the research and testing process? Or will the administration pressure the drug industry and scientific community to accelerate this work, and potentially risk public health, to score political points before election day?

We’re not ready to return to in-class learning

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

August 15, 2020

The Senate’s inability to pass the next COVID-19 relief bill is a not-so-subtle reminder that Washington’s political dysfunction is alive and well. Whether the final bill will include, as the House version did, resources for public education to ensure young Americans can learn in a safe, responsible, fair, and equitable way is unknown. What is clear is that we, as a nation, seem unwilling to accept a difficult fact: America is nowhere near ready for a return to in-class education.

There’s been a lack of leadership surrounding COVID

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

July 30, 2020

In times of crisis, we look to administration officials to lead. … In the case of COVID-19, these officials are entrusted to provide accurate, reliable information we can use to help us stay safe.

We expect them to be transparent and straightforward in their communications, to lead by example, work constructively with our nation’s top scientific minds to address the problem, and design a national plan to try and defeat it. 

None of this is happening.

Trump’s failed COVID response: Managing a pandemic isn’t a states’ rights issue

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

July 7, 2020

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that the 50 state approach toward solving the pandemic isn’t working.

Racism’s Plague on Public Health

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

June 22, 2020

COVID-19’s devastating impact on the Black community has been widely known since the very early stages of the pandemic. Yet in a spectacular display of federal foot-dragging, the Department of Health and Human Services waited until June 4th to require the collection of anonymized data regarding the race and ethnicity of those who test positive for coronavirus (which won’t start until Aug. 1). … Why did it take so long for federal agencies to act? Why weren’t minority groups disproportionately affected given priority access to testing and treatment?

We need to trust each other to beat COVID-19

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

June 1, 2020

We need to trust now more than ever before. That’s a difficult task considering that a majority of Americans today distrust the government when it comes to protecting their health. Countries like South Korea and Sweden have demonstrated that controlling the spread of coronavirus is easier when citizens respect their governments. The fact the U.S. has more coronavirus cases than any other country in the world is a sign that we don’t trust our government and we are not following simple guidance from public health experts. 

Quarantined child sexual abuse survivors need help

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

April 11, 2020

As we adjust to an indefinite period of indoor living due to the COVID-19 crisis, the inconvenience of being unable to do the simple things we once took for granted is already being felt.

For children forced to shelter in place with their sexual abusers, it is a daily nightmare. 

We’re failing America’s opioid epidemic

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

December 22, 2019

Why haven’t we taken any meaningful steps to solve the opioid crisis, one of the greatest public health threats of our time?

Millions of people abuse opioids each year. Their victims cross every socio-economic category. Hundreds of thousands have died. Their impact has been felt for years, yet we have no national collective plan to respond.

To begin to address it, we need a strategic national dialogue, a more effective legal strategy, a willingness by a dysfunctional Congress to come together, and a long-term commitment to do the right thing.

The Surgeon General’s deafening silence on gun violence

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

September 26, 2019

Last week the head of the Association of American Medical Colleges called gun violence a “public health crisis” in America. To address it, Dr. David J. Skorton wrote, “[t]hose of us in the health care field have a central role to play.” His voice adds to the increasing chorus of leading medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Public Health Association, American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Surgeons, demanding action on the issue.

Yet there is one high-profile figure conspicuously absent from this growing symphony of doctors calling for change: The Surgeon General of the United States. 

Congress Can’t Even Study Gun Violence Unless It Changes The Law

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

September 7, 2019

Earlier this year, the House Appropriations Committee passed a spending bill allocating $50 million to study the impact of gun violence in America. It had nothing to do with expanding background checks, eliminating bump stocks, increasing waiting periods, or revisiting the ban on assault weapons. It was simply intended to give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) each $25 million to study the issue and identify ways to prevent gun deaths in America. 

One would think even in today’s deeply divided political environment that Democrats and Republications would agree on funding government research to understand why gun violence is on the rise in America. But the funding set aside in the House bill to conduct it has little chance of gaining any support in the Senate, due a little-known law called the “Dickey Amendment.”

Children at southern border are facing a public health crisis

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

June 17, 2019

The public health crisis facing migrant children at the southern U.S. border is at a boiling point. Detained kids are sleeping on concrete benches because the government is running out of room, and out of money. Thousands have been sexually abused. And six have died in U.S. custody over the past eight months alone.

What parents can learn from the Boy Scouts sexual abuse crisis

An excerpt from my recent op-ed in The Seattle Times:

“The recent legal settlement resolving decades-old child sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America by a Snohomish County man brings to light an important issue that too often is ignored or swept aside. It should be a clarion call to parents in Seattle and around the country, especially now as they start their search to identify summer camps for their kids: Ask the right questions of prospective youth serving organizations ahead of time to protect your child’s safety.”

Dr. Lyndon Haviland to receive Dean’s Champion of Public Health Award from CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy

Nielsen resignation doesn’t change fact that sexual abuse at the border is a real emergency

An excerpt from my recent op-ed in the USA Today:

The abrupt resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen reignited the debate over President Donald Trump’s border policies and his pledge to build a wall. But what continues to be lost in the national conversation on illegal immigration is the crisis involving the abuse of children while in U.S. “care” at the Mexico boundary.

Migrant Health Doctoral Fellowship Established by Lyndon Haviland at CUNY SPH

Dr. Haviland recently awarded the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) “its first named and endowed doctoral fellowship.”  The Lyndon Haviland Fellowship “will provide one incoming doctoral student the opportunity to develop theoretical knowledge and practical skills in addressing migrant health issues through public health policies and strategies, while learning from and collaborating with Dr. Haviland, an internationally recognized global public health expert and a passionate advocate for refugees, immigrants, and young people. … ” See link below for the full text of the CUNY SPH announcement. 

Our health depends on the passage of an achievable Green New Deal

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland


The Green New Deal is all the rage in Congress, capturing our imaginations about new jobs, new industries and a cleaner energy future for the nation.

But the only way any deal will get done is if lawmakers don’t lose sight of the serious human health consequences of inaction. They must work together, show leadership and pass a realistic plan that may not please everyone, but will put our nation on a constructive path toward addressing the increasing health threat posed by climate change.

Ending sex trafficking tomorrow requires preventing child abuse today

Below is an excerpt from my op-ed that appeared today in

“Congress and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), in particular, want to make it easier to go after human traffickers who engage in illegal activities online using the ‘ruthless efficiency of the internet.’ Sen. Portman is rightfully addressing the current crisis of online sex trafficking, and that’s an important move in the right direction. But until we address the root cause, the legislation signed into law Wednesday is simply a small step in protecting women and children. … To cauterize it, we must establish a culture of prevention to disrupt the cycle of abuse and exploitation. And it’s our responsibility to do it.”

To read the entire piece, please click the link below:

Darkness to Light Board Member Lyndon Haviland on the Organization’s Recommitment to Their Roots in Charleston

Darkness to Light, now in its 17th year, is dedicated to ending childhood sexual abuse. Lyndon Haviland, former interim CEO and the new CEO, Katelyn Brewer sat down with the Charleston Post & Courier to discuss their mission. Read excerpts from the interview here:

Lyndon Named a Forest Trends Fellow & Travels to the Peruvian Amazon

On behalf of Forest Trends ( ), Lyndon recently joined a group of conservationists, chefs, journalists, public health experts, and entrepreneurs on a trip to the Peruvian Amazon.

The purpose of the trip was to explore how sustainable gastronomy could contribute to conserving the cultural and natural diversity of the area. As the leading public health expert on the trip, Lyndon advocated for innovative solutions to meeting the nutritional needs of Amazonian residents in a region where food scarcity and malnutrition abound.

Read more about the trip and see pictures in National Geographic Online:

Lyndon Speaks Out for Victims of Sex Abuse

As the interim (now full-time) CEO of Darkness to Light, Lyndon provides insight into the relationship between the increase in the number of child sex abuse cases being reported in a local community and the decrease in the amount of abuse occurring nationally.

Watch the news clip to see Lyndon clarify why communities can be encouraged when reporting increases

The related Fox News story can be read here

Read the latest D2L blog written by Lyndon here

Lyndon Featured in Magazine

Lyndon was recently featured in an article on about her expertise in social entrepreneurship.

Check out the article below to learn Lyndon’s take on how social entrepreneurs differ from typical entrepreneurs:

Lyndon Writes Feature Articles about Preventing Child Sexual Abuse

An article written by Lyndon about building a movement to prevent abuse in Texas is featured in the March 2016 issue of Youth Today.

An article co-written by Lyndon and Anne H. Littlefield about preventing student sexual abuse is featured in the February 2016 issue of the American School Board Journal.

You can read the full article covering prevention, intervention, training, and support here:

Reprinted with permission from American School Board Journal, February 2016. Copyright 2016 National School Boards Association. All rights reserved.