Being a veteran with a complete spinal cord injury at the sixth cervical vertebrae, from moment one of my quadriplegia nearly 46 years ago, I’ve always needed personal caregivers. While I’ve hired a few people over the years who didn’t quite work out, in general I have been blessed to have wonderful female and male nurses and nursing assistants helping me out.
Today, my spouse of a bit more than five years is my personal caregiver. This remarkable lady does not see her caregiving as a burden, but rather as she has said many times when I’ve asked her if she needs a break, “you always take care of the one you love.” I know, I am an extremely fortunate person.
Back in 2010, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act. This law provides critical supports for caregivers of all veterans, but limited eligibility for enhanced benefits such as a stipend and health care to caregivers of veterans who have a serious injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty in the active military, naval or air service on or after September 11, 2001.
This law required VA to submit a report to the Congress about the feasibility of extending the enhanced caregiver benefits to service-connected veterans who sustained significant disabilities prior to September 11, 2001. This report was to be submitted to Congress at the end of May 2013.
However, there is already a bill in the United States Senate known as “The Caregivers Expansion and Improvement Act of 2013,” or S. 851, that would extend these enhanced caregiver benefits to caregivers of veterans of ALL eras who have service-connected disabilities. Simply put, VetsFirst believes that the determination of which caregivers receive comprehensive caregiver benefits should be based on a veteran’s level of need, and not on WHEN the veteran served.
VetsFirst strongly supports the expansion of comprehensive caregiver assistance to ALL veterans with a serious service-connected disability. We urge our readers to contact their United States Senators as soon as possible, requesting their support for the passage of S. 851, The Caregivers Expansion and Improvement Act of 2013, as quickly as possible.
In a few weeks, I will be in our Nation’s Capital with VetsFirst staff advocating in person for the passage of S. 851. Your letters of support now for this measure may help us “push this ball over the goal line.”
Chair of the VetsFirst Committee