By Cathleen V. Carr, JD, Msc D, Executive Director, CertifiedCare
The Veterans Administration estimates that 3,000 families will benefit from a new caregiver financial support program designed to help caregivers of veterans who have been wounded during service in Afghanistan or Iraq.
The Post 9/11 Family Caregiver Program provides a stipend based on the veteran’s need of assistance and location ranging from $600 to $2,500 a month, caregiver training, respite care, and mental health services and counseling. Health care insurance for those caregivers without coverage is also available, as well as travel expenses such as lodging for caregivers to accompany veterans to medical facilities.
Eligibility for these services is limited to the primary family caregivers of a veteran who has sustained a serious injury, including traumatic brain injury or psychological trauma, on or after September 11, 2001. The veterans must require personal care in order to complete the activities of daily living, and/or need supervision based on the effects of neurological impairment or injury.
Below is a statement issued by the legislative sponsor of this timely initiative, Richard M. Blumenthal, a U.S. senator from Connecticut.
As we know all too well, many of our service members have sustained severe combat injuries, including traumatic brain injury, and many suffer from post-traumatic stress — and as a result may require intense supervision and care. Their loved ones — spouses, parents and children — must cut back on work responsibilities, or even retire completely, to care for them. These family caregivers provide crucial support, enabling severely injured veterans to receive care while remaining in their local communities.
The emotional and physical toll of providing such intensive daily care for a family member can be an extremely demanding task — and necessarily causes some caregivers to experience anxiety or depression, which can be compounded by the financial troubles associated with having quit a job or reduced work hours to become a full-time caregiver. Often they work in isolation or without the resources available at nursing home care or professional care facilities. Compounding the problem is that those caregivers most in need of support are least able to find the time to access the traditional assistance provided by the VA or veteran service organizations.
As we rightly take this time to honor our country’s veterans, I encourage everyone to make sure veterans’ friends, neighbors and family members are aware of the available benefits they have earned, including participation in the VA assistance program for family caregivers. The VA provides a wide range of services to caregivers of all veterans.
Each and every family caregiver in Connecticut deserves our sincere thanks for their service to our nation’s returning heroes; their sacrifices enable many veterans to be cared for in a comfortable, familiar environment. More information is available online at http://www.caregiver.va.gov; you may also contact the VA Connecticut Caregiver Support Coordinator at (1-203-932-5711 ext. 2297). Together we can reach those family caregivers who need support themselves, and enable them to continue their vital work of caring for our veterans. I look forward to joining you in these efforts.
There are only two shortcomings of this initiative: 1) is that it is not enough money and 2) it is not available for all caregivers. Veterans from across our great nation and their devoted caregivers all deserve this type of help and support, but the amount is minimal. Surely the colossal US military budget can find a few more dollars to help protect these men and women who help protect us…and the caregivers who care and protect them. The united States is home to tens of millions of family caregivers, people who have had to suffer significant financial loss and career stalls in order to do the right thing by a family member. These good souls need help, too!
On this Veterans Day we remember our debt to military men and women, and we recognize the sacrifices their loved ones on the home front make every day. One way to show thanks is by providing caregivers of veterans the support they need and deserve.
The program is open enrollment nationwide; however, to date, only a handful of families have enrolled.
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