Durbin Amendment to Provide Support to Families of Severely Disabled Veterans Approved by Senate

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that his amendment to increase access to compensation for injured servicemembers who require assistance in everyday living was included in the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act approved by the Senate late last night. The amendment – co-sponsored by Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) -- was designed to assist families who need financial assistance as they put the brakes on their lives to care for a family member injured in the line of duty.


“This amendment gives the Armed Forces a better opportunity to provide for the families of injured servicemembers who really do need additional assistance,” said Durbin. “We owe it to our injured men and women in the military, and to the family members who help them – and us – with so much. I want to thank Senator Nelson and my colleagues for their support of this amendment.”


Since September 11, 2001, approximately 6,800 members of the Armed Forces have received serious injuries in the line of duty,. Many of these servicemembers require temporary or even permanent assistance to carry out daily activities of life while they recover or begin the process of separation from the military. During this time, their families often leave their jobs and their communities to provide them with care, often at great financial and personal sacrifice. With this legislation, the Armed Forces will be able to provide compensation to assist families and friends for the care they provide to a seriously injured servicemember.


Durbin noted that many servicemembers are better able to recover with the help of their family members, and require less use of emergency care, institutionalization and veterans health system services in the long run. The program created by this legislation will also create a bridge to a strong family caregiver program in the Department of Veterans Affairs, an effort Durbin has championed in legislation he introduced in March and is working to enact into law.


The Durbin-Nelson amendment will:


• Make servicemembers with line-of-duty injuries or illnesses eligible for compensation. Under the existing proposal, only servicemembers with “combat-related” injuries would be eligible.


• Broaden the definition of injury to include “serious injuries” as well as “catastrophic injuries,” which are considered the most extreme kind of injury. Expanding access to seriously injured servicemembers is consistent with the proposed caregiver program for veterans and would help ensure a seamless transition from the Department of Defense to the VA.


• Increase the maximum amount of monthly compensation, consistent with the DoD/VA Wounded, Ill, and Injured Senior Oversight Committee and an April 2009 Center for Naval Analysis study on the economic impact faced by caregivers of seriously wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers.