As a member of the Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Collins co-authored the law making this expansion
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has officially launched the first phase of expansion of the VA Caregiver Support Program. This program, which supported caregivers of post-9/11 veterans, has been expanded to include pre-9/11 veterans and their caregivers. As a senior member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Collins championed the law that made this expansion possible and advocated for additional funding for military caregivers and additional VA staff to support the expanded program.
“America’s military caregivers enable veterans living with visible and invisible injuries to recover, remain involved with their communities, and enjoy fuller lives,” said Senator Collins. “This first phase of the VA Caregiver Support Program expansion allows the VA to provide a stipend and resources to thousands of caregivers of veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. We must never forget our military caregivers, America’s hidden heroes, and I will continue to do all I can to support them.”
The VA Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers offers important resources that improve quality of life and can result in faster and improved rehabilitation and recovery for a veteran. The expansion rolls out in two phases. Effective October 1, 2020, the first phase includes eligible veterans who incurred or aggravated a serious injury in the line of duty on or before May 7, 1975. Effective October 1, 2022, the second phase will include eligible veterans who incurred or aggravated a serious injury in the line of duty between May 7, 1975, and Sept. 11, 2001. The VA has also expanded and expedited the hiring of key staff to ensure veterans and caregivers receive timely, accurate assessments and eligibility determinations, as well as an improved customer experience.
For years, the VA Caregiver Support Program has made resources such as a stipend, counseling, and training available to loved ones who have taken on a caregiver role for a veteran with service-connected injuries or illnesses. However, only post-9/11 veteran caregivers have historically been eligible to receive these benefits. When the VA MISSION Act was enacted into law in 2018, it included provisions based on the bill Senator Collins co-authored, the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act, which provided for a phased expansion of the VA caregiver program to include veterans of all generations.
In 2014, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation commissioned the largest-ever study of its kind that revealed caregivers--often a spouse, parent, child, or even a close friend--often sacrifice their own physical, emotional, and financial well-being in order to provide care to veterans with service-connected injuries or illness. Senator Collins received the Congressional Caregiver Champion Award from the Elizabeth Dole Foundation in 2018. Senator Collins chaired a Senate Aging Committee hearing focused on military caregivers in June 2017.
Learn more by visiting the VA Caregiver Program website or by calling the Caregiver Support Line at 855-260-3274.