Taking Care of Caregivers

Taking Care of Caregivers

Taking Care of Caregivers

By Debbie Gregory

By a vote of 92-5, the Senate passed the VA Mission Act, which will expand the VA’s caregiver stipend program for the families of disabled veterans. Currently, the caregiver program is limited to post-9/11 veterans and would be extended to veterans of all eras.

This program is separate from the Aid and Attendance benefit, which is paid to veterans and survivors who are eligible for a VA pension and require the aid and attendance of another person, or are housebound.

The Mission Act will consolidate seven separate programs under Choice in an effort to improve efficiency.

The VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers provides small stipends to family caregivers that in many cases allow disabled veterans to remain at home. The program focuses on the needs of both the eligible veteran/servicemember and the eligible primary and secondary family caregivers.

Under the proposed legislation, the caregiver program would be expanded to benefit the families of all veterans with a serious injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.

“DAV has long advocated for extending comprehensive caregiver benefits to veterans injured and ill prior to September 11, 2001, and this legislation takes major strides to close that gap and provide equity to thousands of family caregivers,” said Garry Augustine, executive director of the DAV’s Washington headquarters.

A care giver is defined as a member of the veteran/servicemember’s family, such as a spouse, son, daughter, parent, step-family member, or extended family member, or if not related, must live with the veteran/servicemember, or will do so if designated as a family caregiver.

The VA recognizes that family caregivers enhance the health and well-being of Veterans they care for in their home.

Caregivers should contact their local Caregiver Support Coordinator with any questions or concerns. Contact information for Caregiver Support Coordinators can be found at www.caregiver.va.gov, using a zip code lookup. The Caregiver Support Line is also available by calling toll free 1-855-260-3274.