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Most Disabled Veterans Don’t Have Access to Full VA Caregiver Support

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By Debbie Gregory.

Family caregivers sacrifice so much of themselves in order to give their loved ones the highest quality of life possible. Yet most people are unaware of who these caregivers are and the role they play and the unique obstacles they face, especially those who are caring for a disabled veteran.

Veterans who were injured after Sept. 11, 2001 and require at-home care have access to for the full package of caregiver supports through the VA. However, this is not true for veterans who were severely injured prior to 2001.

Veteran service organizations such as Disabled American Veterans (DAV) are working with the VA and Congress to change this policy, in the hopes of expanding VA caregiver benefits, such as training and education, financial stipends, health insurance and respite care to all veterans, regardless of when they served.

Of the 5.5 million caregivers who provide support to current and former service members, roughly 80%, (4.4 million) are caring for veterans from military service prior to 2001. The majority of caregivers are spouses who receive very little in the way of benefits or support.

Expanding the VA’s caregiver support program is not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do, as family caregivers not only enhance the quality of life for those they care for, but also save the government significantly in long-term health care costs.

And with some 57% of veteran caregivers over the age of 55, they are more likely to experience health concerns of their own, which could result in increased strain on both the veteran and the caregiver.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Post 9/11 Caregiver Support Services

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By Debbie Gregory.

Caring for a family member or close friend is one of the most important and complicated roles you’ll play. Family Caregivers provide crucial support in caring for Veterans. The “Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010,” benefits the caregivers of post-9/11 Veterans who sustained or aggravated a serious injury in the line of duty.

These caregivers may qualify for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance to Family Caregivers. Veterans eligible for this program must be in need of personal care services because of an inability to perform one or more activities of daily living and/or need supervision or protection based on symptoms or residuals of neurological impairment or injury.

The qualified veteran can appoint one primary caregiver and up to two back-up

Supports available to Primary Caregivers are:

  • A monthly financial payment based on the level of care required. Many caregivers are forced to give up their regular jobs in order to provide care to the veteran.
  • Education and training, including the required Caregiver Core Curriculum. Reimbursement for travel, lodging and meals is also covered when attending the required Caregiver Core Curriculum training. The same is also covered when accompanying the veteran to his/her healthcare appointments.
  • Monitoring to ensure the Veteran’s well-being and quality of personal care services provided by the Caregiver.
  • Access to CHAMPVA health care insurance if the caregiver is not already entitled to care or services under another health care plan. The caregiver may have had health insurance through an employer that was forfeited when he/she gave up employment to become a caregiver.  Also, a wide variety of health issues can arise from being a primary caregiver. Studies have shown that when caregivers were compared to equal non-caregivers, they were found to have a 15% lower level of antibody response and a 23% higher level of stress hormones in their bodies.
  • Mental health services and counseling to meet the unique needs of the caregiver. Caregivers often suffer from depression, resentment and stress. This does not include inpatient care or medication.
  • Respite care of at least 30 days per year.

If you think you fit the criteria for these services, click here for an application. You will be asked to answer a few questions to determine eligibility.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.