Durbin Encourages Post-9/11 Vets Families to Apply for Family Caregiver Program

Caregivers Receive Financial Support as Result of Durbin-Authored Law

[DECATUR, IL] - Over the past year, thousands of families who have taken on the enormous task of caring for America's most seriously wounded veterans have received financial assistance through the Department of Veterans Affairs' Family Caregiver Program, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today.  The Family Caregiver Program, which began one year ago, provides technical, financial and practical support to family caregivers of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seriously injured in the line of duty. 

“Family caregivers make sure their disabled veteran has love and care in the comfort of their own home, often giving up their jobs and shouldering the cost of home care to do so,” Durbin said during a roundtable discussion with program participants and local hospital administrators.  “They need to know they aren’t alone in that daunting task, which is why I designed the Family Caregiver Program to provide those families with training, counseling and financial assistance as they care for our most severely wounded warriors.  If you are a family caregiver of a disabled veteran from Iraq or Afghanistan, or you know someone who is, call my office or the VA to receive assistance applying for the program.”

The Family Caregiver Program was created by a Durbin-authored provision in the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009 which was enacted May 5, 2010. The VA issued its first Caregivers checks, which average $1,600 a month, last July. 

To date, 131 family caregivers in Illinois and 5,153 nationwide are part of the program.  More than 45 percent of family caregivers are between 26 and 40 years of age. Women make up 92 percent of the caregivers and two-thirds are spouses. 

Senator Durbin was joined at the meeting by Nathan Florey and his mother, Deanna Parson.  Nathan suffered an aneurysm while on-duty as a military police officer in Iraq in 2008.  Though doctors warned her Nathan may never regain consciousness and advised her to commit her son to group home, Deanna instead began caring for him herself.  That commitment lasted throughout Nathan’s 15-month recovery and has continued in the years since.  Though first working alone, Deanna eventually learned of and enrolled in the Family Caregiver Program and says the caregiver program’s support system keeps her from feeling as though she is alone in caring for her son. Nathan has recovered sufficiently to earn an Associate’s Degree and pursue a Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Illinois.

The Family Caregiver Program has also provided the VA with an additional way to let families know about two dozen existing benefits and services the VA offers. As one result, 65 previously uninsured family Caregivers are now receiving CHAMPVA health care, a comprehensive care program in which the VA shares the cost of covered health care services and supplies with eligible beneficiaries.

Information outlining the application process is on the VA’s Caregivers website and available via the Caregiver Hotline at 1-855-260-3274.  Applications can be processed by telephone, mail, online or in person at a local VA Medical Center, where Support Coordinators can assist in the application process.