I have written previously for the VetsFirst website about how critically important my family caregiver is for my continuing health and well-being. In honor of National Family Caregivers Month, it’s time to write about some of the more important “enhanced” family caregiver supports now in place for seriously disabled veterans of the post-09/11/01 period.
First and foremost, Caregiver Support Coordinators are available at every VA Medical Center to assist eligible veterans and their caregivers with the application process. Also, if the eligible veteran is not already enrolled for VA health services, that application must be completed, too. The Caregiver Support Coordinator can help eligible veterans complete both applications, or eligible vets can call 1-877-222-VETS for assistance in completing these documents.
To be eligible for the enhanced Caregiver Support program, the veteran must have incurred a serious injury such as a traumatic brain injury or psychological trauma in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001. Also, the veteran must require the assistance of another person, or caregiver, to manage the veteran’s personal care functions that are required in everyday living.
The serious injury to the veteran must require personal care assistance for a minimum of six continuous months based on a clinical determination. Moreover, it must be determined to be in the best interest of the veteran to participate in the Caregiver Support Program, and the veteran must agree to receive ongoing care at home after the VA designates a family caregiver.
Post-09/11/01 veterans may designate one primary family caregiver and up to two secondary family caregivers. Within three business days of receipt of the veteran’s application, the Caregiver Support Coordinator at the veterans’ VA Medical Center will contact the veteran and family caregiver(s) applicant. Next, a VA clinical team will conduct an eligibility assessment to determine what activities of daily living the veteran requires, such as eating, bathing, grooming and/or the need for supervision or protection.
The training of the family caregiver(s) can be completed in one of three different ways: classroom training, online training, or through the use of a VA-provided workbook and DVD. Upon completion of training of the family caregiver(s), a VA clinician visits the veteran’s home to make sure that the family caregiver(s) and veteran have everything they need to be safe and successful in the home setting.
Finally, once all of the above is completed, VA will designate a primary family caregiver, who will begin to receive a stipend based on the veteran’s level of need.
If you are a vet who believes that you might be eligible for these services, or if you know of a post-09/11/01 vet who may be in need of these services, contact your local VA Medical Center and ask to speak to the Caregiver Support Coordinator, or call 1-855-260-3274 for information about VA Caregiver resources.
Chair of the VetsFirst Committee