BY CHUCK BYERS, CHAIR
These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
– Thomas Paine
Starting in October, caregivers of veterans who served during the Vietnam War and earlier will be eligible for a monthly payment from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Currently the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers pays only family members and friends who provide care for those who were severely injured on or after September 11. New regulations will cover caregivers of veterans who were severely injured in the line of duty on or before May 7, 1975. This new regulation further broadens eligibility by expanding the term “serious injury” to include illnesses and diseases from Agent Orange exposure.
To be eligible, veterans must have a single 60 percent or a combined service-connected disability rating of 70 percent, and require personal care for a minimum of six continuous months. You also have to be enrolled in the VA Healthcare System. You can see outside doctors for your care, but you must be seen at least once a year by your VA primary care physician. Disability ratings are assigned by the VA based on the severity of an illness and how much it decreases a veteran’s overall health and ability to function.
The Caregivers Program is completely separate from the Home Bound Aid Attendance Program. A family primary caregiver of a veteran who is unable to perform daily living activities or requires continuous supervision, for example, would receive approximately $2,800 per month. If the veteran is able to perform some of the daily living activities, the caregiver would receive about $1,750 a month.
“The expanded regulation addresses the complexity and expense of keeping veterans at home with their families who provide personalized care,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said. “This will allow our most-vulnerable veterans to stay with their loved ones for as long as possible.”
The Veterans Health Care Committee will be conducting seminars for VVA members on this new program to help everyone fully understand these new benefits. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me.