Bipartisan legislation provides support and resources to the millions of caregivers nationwide who provide care for wounded, ill, and injured veterans
Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Patty Murray (D-WA) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to expand a successful program that helps those who care for wounded, ill, or injured veterans. The Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act would open the program to veterans of all eras, making resources available to more of the family members and other loved ones who have taken on a caregiver role for veterans.
A RAND study commissioned by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, titled “Hidden Heroes: America’s Military Caregivers,” demonstrated that caregivers, often a spouse, parent, child, or even a close friend, sacrifice their own physical, emotional, and financial well-being in order to provide care to servicemembers and veterans. These military caregivers improve the quality of life for veterans and can result in faster and improved rehabilitation and recovery times. The legislation being reintroduced today recognizes that sacrifice and offers support services.
“Our nation’s military caregivers shoulder the everyday responsibilities of providing care to those who suffered the emotional and physical tolls of war. These dedicated individuals make many sacrifices to care for their loved ones, and they deserve our support,” said Senator Collins. “That is why I am pleased to be joining my colleagues in introducing this bill, which will expand access to services for caregivers and help ensure they have the resource they need to care for our veterans.”
“Even though military caregivers don’t wear uniforms or go overseas, they still serve our country – and they need to know their country is there to support them when they put their own lives on hold to care for a loved one who served,” Senator Murray said. “This bill is an important step in ensuring caregivers and veterans of all eras can access this critical program, allowing veterans to stay with their loves ones and out of hospitals and nursing homes.”
Among other things, the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act would:
- Make veterans of all eras eligible for caregiver support services. Currently, only post-9/11 veterans are eligible.
- Make the program more inclusive of mental health injuries.
- Reauthorize the Lifespan Respite Care Act and expand essential respite options for caregivers.
- Give veterans the opportunity to transfer GI Bill benefits to a dependent, to help unemployed or underemployed spouses of injured veterans prepare to become the primary income for the family.
- Make caregivers who work in the federal government eligible for flexible work schedules.
- Provide assistance with childcare, financial advice and legal counseling, which are all top, and currently unmet, needs.
U.S. Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced companion legislation in the House.
See a one-pager on the bill here.