In November the Department of Veterans Affairs released a grim statistic: the number of U.S. troops who sustained injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan had reached 1 million.
A recent study says there are nearly 1.1 million family members tasked with caring for those men and women. In many cases the aftermath of dealing with severe injuries have not just changed the family dynamic but have strained caregivers financially and emotionally.
There is help.
The VA offers support through its Family Caregiver Program.
The program is driven by the belief that recovery is enhanced within the comforts of home. Once a family member is deemed eligible, post 9/11 veterans can receive care in their homes while their designated family caregiver receives both financial compensation and emotional support.
Some of the services that family caregivers can receive are:
- Monthly stipend
- Mental health services and counseling
- Access to health care insurance, if not already entitled to
- Caregiver training and medical support
- Travel expenses for veteran’s medical appointments and per diem and lodging if necessary
- Respite care
There are also training opportunities for family members that range from learning general pre-discharge information to studying Traumatic Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury/Disorders and Blind Rehabilitation.
A veteran’s care plan may also involve home-based primary care, which delivers routine health care services to the home if the veteran has difficulty traveling. This may include medication management and dietary planning, as well as physical rehabilitation and occupational and speech therapy.
Respite care is available to caregivers to relieve them of the constant demands of caring for their loved one. Individuals may be eligible to have a provider stay in their home with their veteran while they leave or the veteran may be sent for a short stay at a local VA community center or Adult Day Health Care Center. The program not only gives family members a deserved break but also gives veterans an opportunity to socialize with other veterans.
Caregiver can receive all this plus ongoing support if they qualify. If you are a family member with questions about eligibility or accessing services or simply need someone to list, call the VA Caregiver Support Line 1-855-260-3274
Finding a local Caregiver Support Coordinator is an easy zip code search by visiting http://www.caregiver.va.gov/help_landing.asp
Eligibility for participation in the Family Caregiver Program can be determined by applying at www.caregiver.va.gov.
Eligibility criteria is based on the following:
- Veterans eligible for this program are those who sustained a serious injury – including traumatic brain injury, psychological trauma or other mental disorder – incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, on or after September 11, 2001.
- Veterans eligible for this program must also be in need of personal care services because of an inability to perform one or more activities of daily living and/or need supervision or protection based on symptoms or residuals of neurological impairment or injury.
- To be eligible for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, Veterans must first be enrolled for VA health services, if not enrolled previously.
Visit this website for a preliminary questionnaire to determine if you may fit the criteria. http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/resources/Caregiver_Eligibility_Check.asp
Editor’s note: Representatives from Veterans Affairs did not return phone calls regarding this story.