Durbin Report: Expanding the VA Caregivers Program

Senator Durbin's eNewsletter
2015-03-06 18:33:47
Fellow Illinoisans: Dan and Trish, married veterans, live in Chicago, Illinois. When Trish returned from fighting in Iraq in 2011, she began developing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD. Her PTSD can be triggered by anything from a backfiring car to simply a bad thought running through her head. Today, as he did all through law school, Dan takes care of Trish. He makes sure she stays on top of all her medications and goes with her to counseling appointments. While at a Veteran’s Affair’s facility, Dan and Trish learned of the VA Caregivers Program. Since joining, the benefits have been life-saving. In 2009, I introduced legislation creating the Family Caregiver Program so caregivers of severely injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could take care of our heroes at home. The program provides home health training, peer support, and a small financial stipend. The caregivers, like Dan, also have access to mental health support and enrollment in the VA’s Civilian Health and Mental Program, if they are not already eligible.
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Fellow Illinoisans:

Dan and Trish, married veterans, live in Chicago, Illinois. When Trish returned from fighting in Iraq in 2011, she began developing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD. Her PTSD can be triggered by anything from a backfiring car to simply a bad thought running through her head.

Today, as he did all through law school, Dan takes care of Trish. He makes sure she stays on top of all her medications and goes with her to counseling appointments. While at a Veteran’s Affair’s facility, Dan and Trish learned of the VA Caregivers Program. Since joining, the benefits have been life-saving.

In 2009, I introduced legislation creating the Family Caregiver Program so caregivers of severely injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could take care of our heroes at home. The program provides home health training, peer support, and a small financial stipend. The caregivers, like Dan, also have access to mental health support and enrollment in the VA’s Civilian Health and Mental Program, if they are not already eligible.

Since its creation, the Caregivers Program has been extremely successful. 22,000 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan participate in the program today, nearly 400 in Illinois alone. In addition to providing valuable support, the VA Caregivers program is also a money saver for taxpayers.

The VA spends an average of $332,000 per veteran per year in VA nursing homes, an average of $88,000 per veteran per year in community nursing homes, and about $45,000 a year in per diem payments to veterans in State Veterans Homes. Through the Family Caregivers Program, the VA cost per veteran per year – including the stipend – is a maximum of $36,000.

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and I introduced a bill this week that will expand the Caregiver Program to include all severely injured veterans. The VA estimates that an additional 70,000 more veterans would be eligible under this expansion. I hope this Congress will act quickly and pass this important bill.

Dan and Trish, and many other families like theirs, count on the Caregiver Program. Their sacrifice didn’t end after their deployments and they continue to show great courage every day they work together on Trish’s recovery.

We owe each and every veteran a great debt of gratitude. The VA Family Caregivers Program has proven it can make a difference in the lives of America’s heroes and their dedicated caregivers. Expanding the program will help so many more families in need and will finally provide assistance to the caregivers of veterans of all eras on an equal basis.

If you are an injured veteran from Iraq or Afghanistan and want to know if you are eligible for the VA Caregivers Program, click here.

Sincerely,

Dick Durbin
United States Senator

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Sent from the office of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin