Caregivers for Veterans of All Eras Need VA’s Support

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Caregivers for Veterans of All Eras Need VA’s Support

VetsFirst believes that disabled veterans must have access to VA provided long-term services and supports that allow them to be independent, valued members of their communities.

Families of disabled veterans play a crucial role in providing needed services and supports that allow veterans to return to, and remain in, their homes. Without caregivers, many disabled veterans would be at risk of institutionalization. To provide this care, spouses and family members often must leave the workforce to assist their husbands, wives, and adult children. The sacrifice of these caregivers may result in lost income and other benefits, including health insurance.

In 2010, Congress recognized the importance of family caregivers by passing the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-163). This law provides critical supports for caregivers of disabled veterans. Caregivers for all eligible veterans who are enrolled in the VA’s health care system have access to education sessions, support services, counseling, mental health services, and respite care. The law also provides certain caregivers of veterans who have a serious injury, such as a traumatic brain injury, that was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001, with a monthly stipend and access to medical care.

In April 2013, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced the Caregivers Expansion and Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 851). This legislation would build on Public Law 111-163 by extending these enhanced caregiver benefits to the caregivers of veterans of all eras who have serious service-connected disabilities. In October 2013, Representative Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) introduced companion legislation in the House (H.R. 3383). Public Law 111-163 envisioned this expansion by including a requirement for VA to submit a report to Congress that was due in May 2013 evaluating the feasibility of extending the enhanced caregiver benefits to veterans of all eras.

We support this legislation because many family caregivers have sacrificed for decades to serve their seriously injured disabled veterans. We must ensure they have the supports that will allow them to continue to provide these critical benefits.

Ask your Senators and Representatives to support the Caregivers Expansion and Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 851) and (H.R. 3383).

Related Legislation

VetsFirst also supports the S.O.S. Veterans Caregivers Act (H.R. 3672) introduced in December 2013 by Representative Raul Ruiz (D-CA) which would ensure that VA’s enhanced caregiver program applies to veterans with serious service-connected illnesses, such as ALS.

In addition, VetsFirst supports comprehensive caregiver legislation introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) in April 2014 that similarly to S. 851 would extend enhanced caregiver benefits to the caregivers of veterans who meet the level of need regardless of era served. Sen. Murray’s legislation, the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act of 2014 (S. 2243), goes further than S. 851 to also include the provision of enhanced caregiver services to veterans with serious illnesses related to their military service. The legislation would also expand the types of services available to caregivers to include financial planning and legal services. It also recognizes the wide-ranging impact of caregiving on families by allowing additional workplace flexibility for federal workers who need to fulfill caregiver responsibilities and facilitating the transfer of eligibility for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to dependents, including children. A House companion bill was introduced in June 2014 (H.R. 4892) by Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI), Representative Michael Michaud (D-ME), and Representative Elizabeth Esty (D-CT).

06/18/2014: Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI), Representative Michael Michaud (D-ME), and Representative Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) introduced the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act of 2014 (H.R. 4892). This legislation is the House companion to Senator Murray’s Senate legislation S. 2243.

04/10/2014: Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act of 2014 (S. 2243). This comprehensive legislation would extend enhanced caregiver benefits to the caregivers of veterans who meet the level of need regardless of era served and of veterans with serious illnesses related to their military service. VetsFirst supports this approach to ensuring that caregivers of our nation’s veterans have access to the services they need.

02/27/2014: Senate Republicans blocked further consideration of S. 1982. Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has vowed to continue working on the legislation.

02/03/2014: Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced a revised version of the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act (S. 1982). The revised legislation still includes the caregiver expansion. VetsFirst supports this comprehensive legislation.

01/16/2014: Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014 (S. 1950). This legislation includes the caregiver expansion provision from S. 851.

12/05/2013: Representative Raul Ruiz (D-CA) introduced the S.O.S. Veterans Caregivers Act (H.R. 3672). This legislation would expand eligibility for enhanced caregiver services to include veterans with serious service-connected illnesses, such as ALS.

10/30/2013: Representative Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) introduced a House bill companion (H.R. 3383) to Chairman Sander’s legislation (S. 851).

09/04/2013: VA released a report required by the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 regarding the possibility of expanding the enhanced caregiver benefits to caregivers of veterans of all eras with serious injuries related to their military service. VA estimated that if the benefits were expanded that 32,000 to 88,000 veterans would be eligible costing $1.8-$3.8 billion for fiscal year 2014.

07/24/2013: The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee voted to send S. 851 to the full Senate for further consideration.

06/19/2013: VetsFirst’s Committee Chair Terry Moakley was on Capitol Hill to talk to Senators about the need to increase caregiver supports for veterans of all eras.

06/10/2013: VetsFirst launched a write in campaign in support of passage.

05/24/2013: VetsFirst sent a letter in support of S. 851 to Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

05/09/2013: VetsFirst testified before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in favor of S. 851.

04/25/2013: Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced the Caregivers Expansion and Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 851). This legislation would ensure that the caregivers of veterans of all eras who have serious service-connected disabilities are eligible for all benefits currently available through VA for caregivers of post-9/11 veterans with similar disabilities.

05/10/2010: The President signed the VetsFirst supported Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-163), to provide critical supports for caregivers of veterans with disabilities.

2017-01-30T17:54:52+00:00 June 10th, 2013|Advocacy Issues List, Updates|