A new program sent out its first round of checks to help people caring for disabled military veteran family members, with the first payment totaling more than $430,000.
“Family caregivers in Montana provide crucial support in caring for our nation’s veterans, ” said Alex Bailey, Family Caregiver Program support coordinator at VA Montana Health Care System. “This support allows the veterans to stay in their homes and communities they defended, surrounded by loved ones they fought for. ”
The program was authorized in 2010, to provide help to people caring for veterans injured in the line of duty after Sept. 11, 2001, the date of terrorist attacks in the United States that led to the U. S. “War on Terror. ”
Veterans eligible for this program are those who sustained a serious injury — including traumatic brain injury, psychological trauma or other mental disorder — and 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 be enrolled for VA health services,
In the program, caregivers receive benefits including a monthly stipend; travel expenses, including lodging and per diem while accompanying veterans undergoing care; access to health care insurance if the caregiver is not already entitled to care or services under a health care plan; mental health services and counseling; comprehensive VA caregiver training provided by Easter Seals; and respite care, not less than 30 days per year.
In Montana, the VA sent out more than $430,000 in stipend payments to nearly 200 family caregivers of veterans in July.
These family caregivers were the first to complete their caregiver training under the program of comprehensive assistance for family caregivers.
“This is a long-awaited day for many family caregivers who diligently worked to achieve this landmark legislation to enhance services for family caregivers, ” said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. “I am proud VA can now offer direct support to the loved ones who give the veterans we serve a greater quality of life by allowing them to remain at home surrounded by family and friends. ”
Since May 9, nearly 1,250 caregivers of veterans who were seriously injured in the line of duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, have applied for the program. A core caregiver training curriculum is a required component of the program. In addition to the training, eligible family caregivers can also access mental health services and are provided health care insurance, if they are not already entitled to care or services under a health plan.
Veterans may review the criteria for eligibility and download the family caregiver program application — VA CG 10-10 — at www.caregiver.va.gov. The application enables the veteran to designate a primary family caregiver and secondary family caregivers if needed.
Montana veterans can also contact Bailey at the VA’s Fort Harrison campus at (406) 202-3062.