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In 2010, the VA Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Program was established to provide benefits for family members of injured veterans to act as caregivers for those veterans in the home. The program is for post-9/11 veterans, and includes eligibility for veterans with both physical and mental injuries . It was a great leap forward in terms of caring for our veterans in the manner which they deserve.
Recently, however, thousands of caregivers around the country have stopped receiving their monthly stipend check from the VA and without any warning, and with little or no explanation . The veterans, the caregivers, and often entire families depend on that assistance to maintain the level of care in the home since they are unable to work otherwise.
According to a study done by the Government Accountability Office , the program was underfunded and problematic from its conception. That is because the Veterans Health Administration originally thought the program would see around 4,000 eligible caregivers sign up for support. The program today has around 23,000 caregivers enrolled . Underestimating the need to begin with and then failing to provide adequate oversight has left the program in need of serious—and immediate—improvements.
Most of all, the caregivers of veterans in the program need to know that they will continue to receive the support they rely on and not have it stopped short without notice.
Family members, often wives, are giving up their own careers to care for wounded veterans at home, and the VA needs to stabilize and expand funding to compensate caregivers. Show your support of wounded veterans and their dedicated caregivers! Wounded veterans need the proper care and support at home, and so do their caregivers!
Department of Veterans Affairs:
The Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 created the VA Family Caregiver Program, an essential facet of providing adequate care for veterans with severe injuries, both physical and mental. While the creation of the program was a great leap forward for veterans' care in the United States, the program itself has fallen into disrepair and both veterans and their caregivers are suffering for it.
The original expectation for the VA Family Caregiver Program forecast around 4,000 eligible caregivers. However, there are now around 25,000 caregivers enrolled in the program. A recent number saw the program growing by 400 enrollees a month, in fact. Funding and oversight, however, have never kept pace with the program and hundreds or even thousands of veteran's family caregivers are having their monthly stipend checks cease without warning or cause.
Family members, often wives, of veterans who give up their own careers to become fulltime caregivers of injured veterans need and deserve all the support possible just as our wounded veterans deserve proper care, treatment and respect for their service and their sacrifices.
An eligible veteran and his/her caregiver enrolled in the program, without sufficient medical improvement, should never be cut off from the program for lack of budgeting or administrative needs on the part of the Veterans Health Administration. And, in the case that an enrolled caregiver is to be taken off the program, they should be given ample notification and a process to appeal before benefits are cut, not forced to seek help and appeal a decision after their needed stipends are stopped.
I urge the Department of Veterans Affairs to increase funding to the VA Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Program to cover both the current and growing needs of enrolled and applying caregivers of injured veterans. The program needs to be improved immediately. Our veterans cannot wait for treatment or care. They need stability and support today.