USAVA Provides Benefits to Veterans’ Caregivers

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2011 — The Vet­er­ans Affairs Depart­ment is launch­ing the first of a series of new and enhanced ser­vices sup­port­ing fam­i­ly care­givers of seri­ous­ly ill and injured vet­er­ans.
Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma signed the Care­givers and Vet­er­ans Omnibus Health Ser­vices Act of 2010 leg­is­la­tion in May, autho­riz­ing VA to estab­lish a wide range of new ser­vices to sup­port cer­tain care­givers of eli­gi­ble post-9/11 vet­er­ans.

“Care­givers make tremen­dous sac­ri­fices every day to help vet­er­ans of all eras who served this nation,” Vet­er­ans Affairs Sec­re­tary Eric K. Shin­se­ki said. “They are crit­i­cal part­ners with VA in the recov­ery and com­fort of ill and injured vet­er­ans, and they deserve our con­tin­ued train­ing, sup­port and grat­i­tude.”

In addi­tion to the new ben­e­fits and ser­vices for eli­gi­ble vet­er­ans who were dis­abled in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001, VA also will begin pro­vid­ing enhanced ben­e­fits and ser­vices to care­givers of vet­er­ans of all eras who already are enrolled in VA care, includ­ing:
— Access to VA’s toll-free Care­giv­er Sup­port Line at 1–855-260‑3274;
— Expand­ed edu­ca­tion and train­ing on car­ing for Vet­er­ans at home;
— Oth­er sup­port ser­vices such as coun­sel­ing and sup­port groups and refer­ral ser­vices; and
— An enhanced web­site for care­givers.

Some of the new ben­e­fits of the Care­givers and Vet­er­ans Omnibus Health Ser­vices Act are restrict­ed by law to the care­givers of the most seri­ous­ly ill and injured post-9/11 vet­er­ans.

Those addi­tion­al ben­e­fits include:
— A month­ly stipend;
— Health care cov­er­age;
— Trav­el expens­es, includ­ing lodg­ing and per diem, while accom­pa­ny­ing vet­er­ans under­go­ing care;
— Respite care; and
— Men­tal health ser­vices and coun­sel­ing.

VA will report to Con­gress in the future on the fea­si­bil­i­ty of expand­ing the enhanced ser­vices to fam­i­ly care­givers of vet­er­ans of all eras, offi­cials said.

While some of these enhanced ben­e­fits are avail­able now, many of the oth­er sig­nif­i­cant new­ly enact­ed ben­e­fits will require the issuance of reg­u­la­tions. These addi­tion­al ben­e­fits include month­ly stipends, pay for trav­el costs, med­ical cov­er­age, train­ing, coun­sel­ing and respite care designed to pre­vent insti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion of vet­er­ans when­ev­er pos­si­ble.

The law requires detailed reg­u­la­tions for deter­min­ing eli­gi­bil­i­ty, des­ig­nat­ing and approv­ing care­givers, and pro­vid­ing stipends and health care cov­er­age to pri­ma­ry fam­i­ly care­givers. The com­plex process required to imple­ment these reg­u­la­tions will pro­vide vet­er­ans, care­givers and the pub­lic the oppor­tu­ni­ty to pro­vide com­ments before those reg­u­la­tions are final­ized.

VA has sup­port­ed care­givers of vet­er­ans of all eras for almost eight decades,” said Deb­o­rah Amdur of VA’s Care Man­age­ment and Social Work Ser­vice, “and we know from our expe­ri­ence and research that vet­er­ans are best served when they can live their lives as inde­pen­dent­ly as pos­si­ble sur­round­ed by car­ing fam­i­ly and friends.”

Each VA med­ical cen­ter has des­ig­nat­ed care­giv­er sup­port coor­di­na­tors who will assist eli­gi­ble vet­er­ans and care­givers in under­stand­ing and apply­ing for the new ben­e­fits. VA also has a care­giv­er sup­port web­site, http://www.caregiver.va.gov, which will pro­vide gen­er­al infor­ma­tion once final reg­u­la­tions are pub­lished, offi­cials said.

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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