VA strengthens Caregiver Support Program


On Sept. 25, 2019, VA announced improvements to the caregiver support program. This announcement put a timeline to expanding the comprehensive assistance to family caregivers.

VA is expanding the program in accordance with section 161 of the VA MISSION Act of 2018.

Under the MISSION Act, VA will use a phased approach to expand the program of comprehensive assistance for family caregivers to eligible Veterans from all eras. Currently, the program is only available to eligible Veterans seriously injured in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001. Prior to expanding, VA must upgrade its information technology (IT) system and implement other improvements to strengthen the program.

When will the program expand?

VA is not currently accepting applications for the program of comprehensive assistance for family caregivers for Veterans of eras other than post 9/11. The first phase of the program expansion will occur once the Secretary has certified that VA’s new caregiver information technology system is fully implemented, which could be as early as the summer of 2020. VA will expand eligibility and begin accepting applications in two phases:

  • In the first phase, VA will begin accepting applications of eligible Veterans who incurred or aggravated a serious injury in the line of duty on or before May 7, 1975.
  • The final phase, due to begin two years later, will include eligible Veterans who incurred or aggravated a serious injury in the line of duty after May 7, 1975, to September 10, 2001.

What is the timeline for expanding the IT system?

To modernize its caregiver IT system, VA is adopting a three-phased approach and will deploy a new system based on a commercial off the shelf product called Caregiver Record Management Application (CARMA) beginning in October 2019. VA will deploy phase two in January 2020 to centralize and automate stipend payment calculations and expects to deploy phase three in the summer of 2020, which will enable caregivers to apply for benefits online. VA will then perform testing and verify that the system has full functionality before expanding the program as required under the MISSION Act.

What services does VA offer for all caregivers?

VA provides a wide range of services for caregivers including training, education, respite care, a telephone support line, and self-care courses. These are available to caregivers for Veterans enrolled for VA health care regardless of when or how they were injured.

What does VA offer under the comprehensive assistance program?

Caregivers in this program may also receive a monthly stipend, beneficiary travel, mental health counseling, enhanced respite services and other benefits.

How is VA strengthening the caregiver program?

In recent months, VA has developed or amended 14 standard operating procedures to clarify program requirements for VA staff, increased oversight in each Veterans Integrated Service Network, provided training and education to staff and caregivers, and is boosting operational capacity with the hiring of more than 680 staff.

What else is VA doing for caregivers?

VA is working across the organization to ensure caregivers have a positive experience through program improvements and initiatives to include:

  • Establishing a campaign (VA/Elizabeth Dole Foundation collaboration) that aims to integrate caregivers into the health care team, through education modules about topics, such as, the role and impact of caregivers.
  • Expanding telehealth services to enable Veterans and their caregivers to get care in the comfort of their homes.
  • Providing a toolkit for caregivers and family members and their role in the prevention of suicide.
  • Promoting self-care for caregivers through text messaging.
  • Increasing self-care courses for caregivers.
  • Providing home and community-based care alternatives through the Choose Home Initiative at 21 VA medical centers.

How can I learn more?

For detailed information on the CSP and the full range of services available to caregivers, visit: or call the Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274. For information on the MISSION Act, visit:


Matt Bristol

Matt Bristol is a strategic communication specialist for the Office of Enterprise Integration, which leads VA transformation and organizational management capabilities through effective integration of people, processes, technology, and innovation. He is a Gulf War Veteran who served as a radio operator with the United States Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and holds a master’s degree in communication from The Johns Hopkins University – Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.


  1. C P Wilson    

    This is BS.
    Why are the post 9/11 Vets being served first? More of the VA’s “Rule of the 3 D’s”? (Delay, Deny, hope they Die)
    The Pre-1975 Vets should be first, then the 76-01, THEN the post-9/11.
    You’ve already (intentionally) forgotten about Panama and Desert Shield/Storm, VA. Shame on you.

  2. Download songs    

    Awnnn. Just look at how beautiful this is. Thanks Blogs va

  3. Rowland Anderson    

    If I live in the Philippines and am enrolled with VA’s Foreign Medical Program, can I have a caregiver? Give me details if so.

  4. Ellen Whitehurst    

    I am a caregiver for a VA vet from the Vietnam era. This man served his country for 28 years and never complained, he was drafted in 69 and went to Vietnam and was sprayed with agent orange unknowingly by his country. Now he has been dx with a terminally ill with his lungs his only chance is a lung transplant and the VA stated put him into hospice. I decided that we needed a second opinion so He seen a pulmonologist through Medicare and Tricare who referred him to a transplant team who approved him for transplant. I knew he wasn’t ready for hospice care! We are currently having to beg our friends for money to help us to afford the cost of needing to relocate for the waiting for a lung. We have to be within so many miles to the hospital so we had to close up our home and rent a place close, yes I am tired but we should not have to worry about losing everything because we DID Not use the VA, they refused to help, yes I am angry in few months I may lose the one person that I truly love because our government wants to spend all that money on impeachment and illegals, I feel they should spend that money on those who are and have made it possible for them to act like little kids oh yea I am also Vietnam vet.

  5. Christopher Brian Carland    

    It would be useful to know what a “serious injury” is for the purpose of this program. Otherwise it’s hard to know if this program applies to me, or anyone I know.

    It seems from two readings that the VA is announcing that they are about to do something. Maybe. Why not wait until something actually gets implemented before you start the drum roll?

    1. Matt Bristol    

      You may be eligible for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers if the Veteran meets both of the following requirements. Both of these must be true. The Veteran you’re caring for: Has a serious injury—including traumatic brain injury, psychological trauma, or other mental disorder—that was caused or made worse by their active-duty service on or after September 11, 2001, and needs personal care services because they can’t perform one or more activities of daily living and/or needs supervision or protection based on symptoms of lasting neurological damage or injury. Contact the Caregiver Support Line at 855-260-3274 to learn more.

  6. Sybil hillian    

    Apply at your local va for work

  7. Bill Sanders    

    This is the same BS they habe been telling us. They VA has ALREADY soent $7 million on 4 failed attepts to provide a new IT system. Congress has done NOTHING but give them extensions. The 2 year time line only starts AFTER they announce the new system is ready…. which still doesn’t even exist. More lies with no accountability.

  8. Ronald Bert Everitt    

    Rather adds a second definition to Assisted Living of health cares dictionary.

  9. S. M.    

    I am curious if the program expands to caregivers of vets who undergo surgeries? Is their a temporary provision of that? What caregiver option for those who do not qualify in our small area for van transportation to a VA appt. My spouse works; he is also a vet, so what option do I have. I can not use telehealth with my doctor all the time. I have to see them eventually but he only gets so much time off from the school system.


    I am 100% service connected disabled Vietnam (in-country 1968-1969) Air Force combat vet living at home with diabetic peripheral neuropathy in both legs that has robbed me of my driving. 90% of my care comes from the Boston VA which is 45 miles from my home that I get to via a free VA shuttle. Once I get to Worcester to get the shuttle, I can then get to all my Boston VA appointments. Sometimes, my wife (care-giver) cannot bring me to Worcester to get the shuttle………..I then have to cancel my Boston appointments. Can the caregiver program get me a ride to Worcester?

  11. Henry B Straley    

    I agree with the two above. It does seem to be a way to SAVE MONEY NOT LIVES. We are no different than the people from Gulf era. THINK

  12. Han    

    I might be tired, or just getting old, but this article does not seem to be very informative.

    I, a Veteran, have been taking care of a relative who is a VA Veteran, and her oldest son who both receive SSI. I take care of the majority of the housework, yard work and drive them to their appointments, shopping, and work.

    She has mentioned applying for travel expense, but rarely does she offer anything towards the fuel cost. And then $10.00 does not quite pay for $40.00 of gas that is spent to take her to the VA Hospital where they make appointments for her.

    When I have asked about family care giving services, it seems no one in the VA System, State Family and Elder Welfare . Office’s has any knowledge of it and I have asked the universally most stupid thing they have ever heard. My enlisted Military Retirement check for 20 years of service of just over $1400.00 does not go far, after my bills are paid each month, I have about $38.oo for food and fuel. Caring for this branch of the family has basically turned me into the household slave. There is no time for a job, even if I could find one who would actually hire me at my age. I have tried, and am getting tired of being told that they have decided to go with someone else.

  13. Lewis Miller    

    I would just like to know when the VA is going to stop the retaliation on me for filing complaints about the Amarillo VA and treat me for my SERVUCE CONNECTED DISABILITIES. That’s all I am asking for. Seems they want to treat me for other things than my SCD’s. Hopefully folks will see how the government runs healthcare and keep socialized medicine out of America. They have the model VA to prove it does not work even though Veterans gave so much for these ungrateful folks at the VA. The most complacent and incompetent government agency ever!

  14. Zaupdate    

    I really recommend this article for every one

  15. Keith Owen Auspland    

    The V.A. SUCKS….
    No mincing words, the V.A. is there to FIGHT our benefits to their end degree……. like the money is coming out of their own bank accounts….
    Do you know how many times I sat in front of an advisor, a representative of the V.A. AT the V.A. and they told me point blank that they thought I was faking my injuries from Iraq and Afghanistan?
    WWWWHHHAAATTT TTTHHHEEE FFF?????????????????????

  16. Mara McKinley    

    Is there a WSU to obtain a stipend to care for my husband who had s heart transplant. I have taken leave from work with no pay to care for him
    He has. Mobility issues from the Va and ptsd.

  17. Robert    

    Why no stipend for caregivers to Agent Orange 100% disabled veterans?

    1. Matt Bristol    

      VA administers a range of services for caregivers of Veterans of all eras under the Program of General Caregiver Support Services. However, the current Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, which includes a monthly financial stipend, is currently only available to eligible Veterans injured in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001.

  18. Paula Minger    

    The only way to strengthen the Caregiver program is to eliminate PTSD as an injury and open the enrolment to our physically wounded ELDER WWII KOREA and VIETNAM Veterans who have already waited 8 years

    I understand you will need CONGRESS to reverse the signing off on IT but at these point I strongly believe they will

    There’s approx 800 PRE 9/11 Vets dying each day. Most who need the Caregiver stipend are receiving end of life or palletive care due to severe physical injuries,

    PTSD should NEVER have been made a priority over our physically wounded

    I’ve been a caregiver for 40 years. I was glad to do it and never thought of it in those terms I never expcted a penny of compensation.

    But when I saw Congress sided with WWP and determined wife’s such as myself WERE NOT IN NEED? That’s hurt me more than anything else I’ve dealt with over the years.

    I don’t blame the V.A. but I do need the V.A. to fight for us,

    Thank you,

    Paula Mi her


    1. Harris Jannusch    

      You may have no idea what severe service connected PTSD can do to adversely affect life. I have physical and psychological wounds, and BOTH have taken their tolls equally. I am not opposing any program that you support to help veterans but please do not work against other vets who have problems you may not fully comprehend.

  19. maranna l marwin    

    Is there a pay amount for a ederly care giver.??? Other then respite help is there any more VA can offer my husband 100%.. We have a cna for 2 hrs 5 days to help him. Can more hours be given threw the home care company for help with cleaning for the caregiver. We need help now. He got out of the service in 1955. It took 40 years to get his benefits after they burned his legs with heat lamps in the va hospital spokane wa. The records just disappeared for 40 years. No back pay was given. Can we apply now Oct 1 2019. Maranna Marwin for Russell Marwin 3466

    1. John kendall    

      Another vet I know, injured and medical discharged and was sent too Tacoma .ca. They can’t find any records either from 1977. I wonder how many other veterans who were serviced in Washington state have had records lost by VA

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