By Debbie Gregory.
Since 2010, the U.S. Department of Veterans (VA) has provided programs that administer benefits and resources for family members who serve as caregivers to disabled military Veterans. These programs offer as much as $2,300 per month to the approximately 7,000 spouses, children and other loved ones of Veterans of the post-9/11 era. This generation is the only one that such benefits are approved for. And there are many caregivers from previous generations who deserve consideration under these programs as well.
But for over the last forty years, thousands of disabled Vietnam Veterans have had their spouses and other family members serve as primary caregivers, with little to no support. They help their Veteran loved ones with personal hygiene, dressing, , eating, and ambulating around the house or around town. When family members assist disabled Veterans with daily functions that they can no longer do, it keeps them from going to a nursing homes. And according to a 2014 study conducted by the Rand Corporation, providing this necessary care for their loved one saves the VA around $3 billion each year.
The last week of February, thousands of caregivers and supporters were in the Washington D.C. to urge politicians to expand the same benefit to caregivers of all Veterans. Leading the charge was Veteran Service Organization Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
In 2014, there was legislation, introduced on Capitol Hill, that would have expanded benefits for caregivers, but the bill did not gain enough support to succeed.
It is the hope of the supporters that by spreading the word about the plight of caregivers they could gain traction for legislative approval to get these Veteran families the help they need and the consideration that they deserve.
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Military Connection: The Plight of the Caregiver: By Debbie Gregory