By Debbie Gregory.
A staggering number of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans have come home wounded. Some are missing limbs. Many have burns or scars. And more have severe emotional wounds that need treatment. Many of these wounded warriors are dependent upon their family members, usually spouses, to take care of them.
Since 2010, the VA has offered monthly stipends and health insurance to individuals who provide round the clock care to wounded Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. The DOD also offers a monthly stipend for family members of active duty service members who provide full-time care for their wounded warrior.
The reason for the stipends and support is that these caregivers have given up the potential to earn a wage in exchange for taking care of someone who was wounded in combat.
For eligibility to receive a caregiver’s stipend through the DOD, the service member must have incurred a catastrophic injury or illness in the line of duty. The service member needs to have been certified by a physician to be in need of physical assistance to perform daily functions. And the service member would also require some form of institutional care, if a caregiver was not present.
To be eligible for the VA’s Family Caregiver Program, the Veteran must have incurred or aggravated a serious injury, including traumatic brain injury, psychological trauma or other mental disorder in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001. Veterans must also be in need of care due to an inability to perform one or more functions of daily living, or require supervision or protection based on symptoms or effects of a neurological injury or impairment. Veterans also need to be enrolled in VA health services to be considered for caregiver support.
The amount of support that both programs offer caregivers is based on the service member’s zip code and the type and amount of care that is provided. Interested caregivers can utilize the Special Compensation for Assistance with Activities of Daily Living (SCAADL) calculator that is provided by DOD.