VA Enhances Support of Family Caregivers

Ed. Note: Cross-posted from the Department of Veterans Affairs blog. The Department of Veterans Affairs is launching a new program that will offer a lifeline to families across the country. The new Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program, described below, provides a whole new range of direct benefits to caregivers of our nation’s most seriously injured veterans. This is especially good news for women —over 90% of those caring for veterans are women, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving. Read on for more on this crucial new program. The Middle Class Task Force continues to support initiatives to support all caregivers. Yesterday’s announcement marks a real victory for caregivers and an important step in our efforts to support these men and women who support us when we are most in need.

Today, we, at VA, are posting the interim final rule that will allow us to roll out enhanced services, including a monetary stipend, health insurance, expanded training and other support services to a whole new category of people serving our Nation – our Family Caregivers of Veterans who sustained a serious injury in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001. This new program will offer those Veterans the ability to remain in a comforting home environment surrounded by loved ones and supported by a dedicated Family Caregiver.

VA has long known that having a Family Caregiver in a home environment can enhance the health and well-being of Veterans under VA care. Therefore, we are pleased to add this new program to the wide range of services VA already offers to support Veterans and their Family Caregivers at home. The regulation is available on our Caregiver website and the application process for the new program for post-9/11 Veterans injured in the line of duty is also described in a fact sheet. We’re excited to begin accepting applications on May 9th. Look for the application at www.caregiver.va.gov the morning of the 9th or call our Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274. We’re waiting to assist.

We know that this wait has been long for those dedicating so much to provide for nearly every aspect of their beloved Veteran’s well-being. With these resources in place, we mark the beginning of a new era in the delivery of enhanced services for Family Caregivers. Family Caregivers are our partners in providing quality care to our Nations heroes; Caregivers are the heroes on the home front.

Additionally, VA has many other programs and services already in place that support Veterans and their Family Caregivers at home. At www.caregiver.va.gov you will find a description of more than two dozen programs we offer all Caregivers, training tips and advice on care giving, including the importance of taking time to take care of yourself. All Caregivers are also encouraged to utilize the National Caregiver Support Line, 1-855-260-3274, for counseling and information about resources and services. The trained professionals who staff our Support Line will also connect you to your local VA medical center’s Caregiver Support Coordinator who stands ready to offer support and assistance as you navigate this journey of being a Family Caregiver.

We care and are eager to help. I have been with the Department of Veterans Affairs for 20 years and have worked with countless Veterans, Family Caregivers, Veteran Service Organizations, other federal, state and community agencies as well as my VA colleagues; to strengthen VA’s support for all that you do each and every day. You share our commitment to care for those “who have borne the battle.” That makes you our partners in this sacred duty and it is a relationship we at VA plan to keep strengthening for the sake of the Veterans we can all agree deserve our very best on behalf of a grateful Nation.

Deborah Amdur, LCSW, is VA’s Chief Consultant for Care Management and Social Work Service. She has overall responsibility for five national programs including: the Social Work Program, the Caregiver Support Program, the Family Hospitality Program, the Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) Care Management Program and the VA Liaison Program.

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