VA strengthens Caregiver Support Program


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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: https://www.caregiver.va.gov/ or call the Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274. For information on the MISSION Act, visit: https://missionact.va.gov/.

Author

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.

Comments

  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. Anomalous InFearOfRetribution    

    So much discrimination against veterans. Same damage, but those who are older (prior to 9/11) are ineligible until maybe next year. So younger vets will get the benefit now and for many more years yet older vets with less time before death have to wait.

    Same as the GI Bill.

    Similar to the government stealing our retirement to use it to pay the disability pay from the VA. Us older vets were under a different retirement plan. If we didn’t make it to 20 years because we were harmed in serving our country and forced out at a young age broken for life, our accrued retirement for the work and separation from family is taken.

    Yet our politicians support those coming across our porous borders with food, housing, phone, reduced or free education (so they can be indoctrinated) and anything else the government can think of. Such an insult to veterans. Yet politicians claim they care about vets, talk about the visits they do breaking break instead of passing budget bills and truly rooting out discrimination in the VA. When will they stop doing short term budgets on the military budget delaying needed equipment and resources for our current veterans.

    When will politicians stop talking about discrimination when they themselves continuously discriminate against veterans regardless of sex or heritage.Is it truly about buying votes with new entries to our country at the expense of our Veterans.

    I don’t write this in anger or to be mean. I write as this is how so many veterans feel and are harmed on a daily basis. Can’t discussion open up about discrimination against vets. They do things in blocks due to funding, yet if it was any other discrimination that I can think of, the budget would not matter.

    And this is our long term established government health care that serves as the model. Is this what the citizens want to deal with?

    Now I’ll be tracked as I spoke against

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  4. 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.

  5. Loretta J Cash    

    it’s all political bs…the VA has become so political it makes me sick…after several tours, my husband came back from Afghanistan all busted up…he can no longer drive, has trouble bending after 5 spinal surgeries, 3 shoulder surgeries and several knee surgeries, just to name a few (at least he made it back)…he was medically retired after 23 years and yes I do get the stipend for caring for him (after jumping thru hoops like a circus horse), and it does help but it doesn’t make up for the lack of care received at the Baltimore VA…the only way we get anything accomplished is when we start filing a Congressional and/or start emailing the TOP of the food chain, WHY IS THAT??? it seems that when I was volunteering there, the VA couldn’t do enough for my husband, but since I had to give up volunteering because he needs me, it’s like we are invisible…I used to feel very positive about the VA, lately, NOT so much…it’s utterly ridiculous to have to wait weeks or longer for ANY appointment, and once you get that appointment, don’t forget to bring a lunch ’cause you’ll be there for the better part of the day…if you’re that ‘short staffed’ and overwhelmed, OUTSOURCE IT!…we know it’s expensive, but when you’re up night after night with a veteran and his nightmares or because the pain levels won’t let him sleep, all WE care about is fixing it, and frankly don’t care how much it costs…these veterans AND their families gave up a heck of a lot more…and the ED at the VA has ridiculously long wait times as well, not to mention all the comfort of a bed of nails…

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Sybil hillian    

    Apply at your local va for work

  9. 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.

  10. Ronald Bert Everitt    

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

  11. 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.

  12. Carlos L Cortes Malave    

    Caregivers in PR do not be good enough My wife is my caregiver. She takes to all medical appoinments.And she has been denies the caregivers program to times. I have neuropathic problems in two legs alogns with peripherial problems. Due to my diabetes with ED. HBP, Cervical Spine, Severe Mayor Depression with sycosis,Left Arm Radiculophaty,Chronic Sinus, Rinhittis,Tinnitus,Left Arm Median Nerve All this conditions are SC. In process due to an appeal is both Arms Neuropathy and Nervious Condition. No S/C but diagnosed Chronic PTSD, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in boths hands. Gastrics Problems. The 2nd time she’s been denied the program she get an answer in only 3 days after she made the claim. And don’t surprise was a copy of the 1st claim. They give the same stament of the 1st claim. And I am 100 S/C %

  13. ANDREW F KJELLBERG    

    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?

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. Zaupdate    

    I really recommend this article for every one

  18. george crenshaw    

    When va will not give you a wood left leg , your’re really been dumped under the bus. Tying me to chair is not a good sign, makes you at 75 to be ready to go on. No hope no wish, a va doctor caused more problem for me by not treating for my foot , charcot disease,, than my diabetics. Started out small pimple size knot, to baseball size, just couldn’t see it coming, then came diabetic ulsers from pressure.

  19. Butch Toudouze    

    I have been fighting cancer for 2 years and it takes to long for VA AND DOCTORS TO GET TOGEGHTER FOR APPOINTMENTS.. WHILE I WAIT MY CANCER GETS WORSE. I HAD STAGE 4 THROAT CANCER BEFORE IT WAS FOUND OUT. WAITING MONTHS FOR PET SCANS AND DOCTORS VISITS. NOW I HAVE HAD 35 RADIATION TREATMENTS ON THROAT PLUS CHEM0. WAS TOLD I WAS CANCER FREE.THEN MONTHS GO BY AND TOLD I STILL HAVE CANCER. MY VOICE BOX REMOVED. NOW I HAVE 12 MORE RADIATIONN TREATMENTS ON LYMPHNOID AND COLON CANCER. I HAD A COLONOSCOPY 7 MONTHS AGO AND DOCTOR SAID CANCER FREE. ALSO WAS TOLD I WAS CANCER FREE BY DR. HULL IN WEST PLAINS MISSOURI AFTER MY 35 RADIATION TREATMENTS AND CHEMO.HE LOOKED AT MY THROAT AND SAID I WAS CANCER FREE.TWO WEEKS LATER PET SCAN SAID I HAD CANCER AND HAD VOICE BOX REMOVED. MONTHS GO BY IN BETWEEN DOCTORS AND PET SCANS AND OTHER TESTS WHILE MY CANCER GROWS AND GETS WORSE.IF YOU HAVE CANCER THE SOONER YOU CATCH IT AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES. IF IT WAS YOU I BET YOU WOULD WANT THE APPOINTMENTS WERE A LITTLE FASTER. RIGHT NOW I AM GETTING 12 RADIATION TREATMENTS AND GOING TO HAVE COLON SURGERY AND CHEMO SOMETIME IN THE FUTURE. BUT WAITED MONTHS FOR ALL THIS TO HAPPEN. OH YEA I ALSO HAD TO PAY FOR MOTEL ROOM FOR 7 WEEKS AND GAS MILEAGE TO GET TO WHERE MY TREATMENT WAS AND HAD TO PAY FOR IT MYSELF VA WOULDN’T REIBURSE ME. THIS TIME I AM STAYING AT FISHER HOUSE IN ST. LOUIS WHICH COVERS MY ROOM AND MEALS BUT I LIVE 5 HOURS FROM HERE.THE FIHER HOUSE IS GREAT BUT THE VA DOESN’T WANT TO PAY FOR GAS.
    .

  20. Allan Allridge    

    My wife works for the DOS and is forced to work in DC. I am a combat disabled Vet served during the Vietnam era living in Florida. Two years ago she was authorized by her management to remote telework from our home in Florida. Then when she applied for continuing her teleworking from Florida she was refused telework because her director didn’t want her to continue remote teleworking because of a DOS directive not allowing caregiving and teleworking even if the caregiving duties was outside of the duty day and would not interfere with work. She was giving a year of family leave WOP but then given a choose if wanting to go back to work she had to work out of her DC duty station. My wife made clear in her request for another year of tele-working that her care giving would be outside her duty day. The words “caregiver” or caretaker in the DOS FAM can’t be used as justification to work remotely. Caregiving and teleworking can work if stated in the teleworking agreement all caregiving is not allowed during duty hours unless leave is requested and used. I believe this issue needs addressed and policy changed to truly support our disable Veterans. Thank you,

  21. 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?????????????????????

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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

    PHYSICAL WOUNDS MATTER TOO
    I

    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.

    2. Patricia Burke    

      Hi Paula, I read your comment over and over, thinking I read it wrong. “The only way to strengthen the Caregiver program is to eliminate PTSD as an injury and open the enrolment to our physically wounded” Apparently you are not aware of what PTSD is and how it affects our soldiers. It is mental and physical, including pain. My husband was in and out of the hospital for 3 years because of GI problems. He almost died several times and ended up with 1 foot of his large intestines removed among other things. It does not effect just them but also those around them/family, friends, complete strangers. I prayed to God and told him that I will love my husband no matter what, if he just comes back, whether he’s missing an arm, or leg or both, just as long as he comes back. Well Paula, he came back- but he lost his mind. I dropped off a perfectly normal soldier, actually… an awesome man, at the airport and when he came back, I found he was missing his mind. Actually, sometimes I feel someone else came back, he just looks and sounds like my husband. Just because he doesn’t look sick to you, does not mean he isn’t. . Of the eight years my husband has been back, he has maybe enjoyed a month of it, TOTAL. There’s not enough room or time to explain to you how crippling PTSD is. Your comment is infuriating, to even think these soldiers don’t deserve treatment, healthcare and that others are sicker and deserve to be prioritized over them… Trivializing PTSD is ignorant. Paula, please pray for an influx of money for the VA so they can take care of more people, like your love one and for you to have sympathy and understanding for others.

    3. Ed Wright    

      OMFG!! YOU THINK PTSD IS NOT/SHOULD NOT be considered a disability??!! You’ve lost your damn mind. We ALL have problems getting help, services and assistance from the VA. So, grow up, suck it up and quit blaming other Vets for your inability to receive help. WE ALL HAVE THAT PROBLEM!!! And, by the way, PTSD has been medically proven AND verified, that it causes physical DAMAGE to the brain. It is a Medically Proven BRAIN INJURY, WHICH IS A PHYSICAL INJURY. Before you post comments that make you sound like an idiot, do some research. Otherwise, quit your btching.

  25. 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

    2. Joycelyn Martinez    

      Maranna, I would suggest you call this Caregiver Support Line number from the article for help 1-855-260-3274. Sounds like you really need it.

      How can I learn more?
      For detailed information on the CSP and the full range of services available to caregivers, visit: https://www.caregiver.va.gov/ or call the Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274. For information on the MISSION Act, visit: https://missionact.va.gov/.

      Or, maybe you can call the VA in your local area or the VFW..

      I thank God and your Veteran for his service to our country.

    3. Matt Bristol    

      Contact the Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274, or the Caregiver Support Coordinator at your nearest VA medical center, to discuss available services under the Caregiver Support Program. You can locate your nearest Caregiver Support Coordinator at https://www.caregiver.va.gov/support/New_CSC_Page.asp. You may also qualify for Homemaker and Home Health Aide Care. Learn more at https://www.va.gov/GERIATRICS/pages/Home_and_Community_Based_Services.asp.

    4. Matt Bristol    

      Contact the Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274, or the Caregiver Support Coordinator at your nearest VA medical center, to discuss available services under the Caregiver Support Program. You can locate your nearest Caregiver Support Coordinator at https://www.caregiver.va.gov/support/New_CSC_Page.asp . You may also qualify for Homemaker and Home Health Aide Care. Learn more at https://www.va.gov/GERIATRICS/pages/Home_and_Community_Based_Services.asp .

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