The DAV Department of Maryland leads the fight for increased assistance and support services for caregivers. We worked to pass the Public Law 111-163, which required the VA to create a comprehensive caregiver support program, and we continue to fight for eligibility expansion.
The Program of General Caregiver Support Services
The VA’s Program of General Caregiver Support Services is incredibly beneficial for veterans and their families. In order to be eligible for this program, caregivers must be caring for veterans that meet one of the following criteria:
- The veteran has a serious injury, such as a brain injury or mental disorder.
- The veteran needs personal care due to an inability to complete one or more activities of daily living.
- The veteran needs protection or supervision due to symptoms of neurological impairment or injury
All veterans must be enrolled in the VA healthcare program and all injuries must be service-connected. If all of the requirements are met, the caregiver will be eligible for the program. Through the program, caregivers are entitled to the following benefits and services:
- Monthly stipend
- Travel expenses (including lodging and per diem while accompanying veterans undergoing care)
- Access to health care insurance (if the caregiver is not already entitled to care or services under a health care plan)
- Mental health services and counseling
- Comprehensive VA Caregiver training provided by Easter Seals
- Respite care (not less than 30 days per year)
The Fighting for Equal Access to Caregiver Services and Supports Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Program
Caregivers are the family and friends who help and support severely ill and injured veterans live to their highest potential. To help recognize their sacrifices and meet their needs, DAV worked to pass Public Law 111-163, which requires that the Department of Veterans Affairs create a comprehensive support program for caregivers. Through the Caregiver Support Program, the VA provides an unprecedented level of support to families with veterans seriously injured in the line of duty in post-9/11 service. These supports and services include education and training in the caregiving role, enrollment for the family caregiver in the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA), an expanded respite benefit, mental health treatment and modest stipends paid directly to the family caregiver.
Since 2010, DAV has fought to ensure family caregivers of all severely injured and ill veterans are eligible for the same comprehensive caregiver support and services. On May 23, 2018, following years of debate, collaboration and finally compromise, Congress gave final approval to historic veterans legislation that would expand the eligibility for the VA’s comprehensive caregiver program to veterans catastrophically injured before Sept. 11, 2001. The John S. McCain III, Daniel K. Akaka and Samuel R. Johnson VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018, referred to as the VA MISSION Act, not only extends vital support to thousands of deserving family caregivers—on whom severely injured veterans rely—but also makes a number of reforms and improvements to strengthen the VA health care system and improve veterans’ access to care.
Today, DAV is working to ensure the eligibility expansion and all other provisions in the VA MISSION Act related to the VA’s Caregiver Support Program are enacted as soon as possible, and we continue to advocate for the program to be effective and efficient in assisting severely injured veterans’ family caregivers.
New VA MISSION Act, P.L. 115-182, expands caregiver assistance to pre-9/11 veterans
On May 23, 2018, following years of debate, collaboration and finally compromise, Congress gave final approval to historic veterans legislation that would expand the eligibility for the Department of Veterans Affairs comprehensive caregiver program to veterans catastrophically injured before Sept. 11, 2001. The “John S. McCain III, Daniel K. Akaka and Samuel R. Johnson VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018,”—referred to as the “VA MISSION Act,”— extends support to thousands more deserving family caregivers that severely injured veterans rely on, but also make a number of reforms and improvements to strengthen the VA health care system and improve veterans’ access to care.