Durbin Meets with Local Family Caregivers, Calls for Expansion of VA Caregiver Program
[MARION, IL] – After introducing legislation to expand the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Caregiver Program earlier this year, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with family caregivers of seriously injured veterans to hear how their lives have changed as a result of the program. The Caregiver Program – created through language Durbin included in the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009 – provides home health training, peer support, and a financial stipend to caregivers of severely injured veterans. More than 21,000 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan participate in the program today, including 425 in Illinois. While the eligibility for the original Caregiver Program is limited to post 9/11 veterans, Durbin’s new bill would expand the program to allow severely injured veterans from all wars to apply.
“We owe each and every veteran a great debt of gratitude,” said Durbin. “The VA Caregiver Program proved it can make a difference in the lives of America’s heroes and the dedicated caregivers who made the decision to care for them. Expanding this program to veterans of all wars will make tens of thousands more families eligible for critical homecare services and financial assistance. With this bill, we are on the way to helping many families in need and can finally provide assistance to the caregivers of veterans of all eras on an equal basis.”
The Caregiver Program was created by a Durbin-authored provision in the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009, which was enacted in 2010. The VA began providing caregiver support in 2011 and has been a success for veterans and their families.
Not only does the program allow veterans to stay in their homes with their families, but it is also a money saver for taxpayers. The VA spends an average of $332,000 per veteran per year in VA nursing homes, an average of $88,000 per veteran per year in community nursing homes, and about $45,000 a year in per diem payments to veterans in State Veterans Homes.
Through the Family Caregiver Program, the VA cost per veteran per year is about $36,000. This includes the stipend, which averages between $600 and $2,250 a month, based on the level of care and the geographic location, and services provided to the caregiver.
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