The VA has long advocated for caregivers as vital partners in providing care worthy of the sacrifices by America’s Veterans and Servicemembers with each VA medical center containing a designated Caregiver Support point of contact to coordinate caregiver activities and serve as a resource expert for Veterans, their families and VA providers. The VA offers a number of programs that may be of use to Veterans. In-Home and Community Based Care provides skilled home health care, homemaker/home health aide services, community adult day health care and Home Based Primary Care. Respite Care is designed to relieve the family caregiver from the constant burden of caring for a chronically ill or disabled Veteran at home. Services can include in-home care, a short stay in an institutional setting or adult day health care. Caregiver Education and Training Programs provids multiple training opportunities which include pre-discharge care instruction and specialized caregiver programs in multiple severe traumas such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Spinal Cord Injury/Disorders, and Blind Rehabilitation. The VA has a Family Caregiver Assistance Center on My HealtheVet, www.myhealth.va.gov
, as well as caregiver information on the VA’s main Web page health site; both Web sites include information on VA and community resources and caregiver health and wellness.
Family Support Services can be face-to-face or on the telephone and include family counseling, spiritual and pastoral care, family leisure and recreational activities and temporary lodging in Fisher Houses. The VA provides durable medical equipment and prosthetic and sensory aides to improve function, financial assistance with home modification to improve access and mobility, and transportation assistance for some Veterans to and from medical appointments.
On May 5, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 into law. Title I of the Act will allow the VA to provide unprecedented benefits to eligible caregivers who support the Veterans who have given so much for this Nation. The law distinguishes between Veterans who incurred or aggravated a serious injury or illness in the line of duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001 (post-9/11 Veterans), and those Veterans whose injuries or illnesses were incurred prior to Sept. 11, 2001 (pre-9/11 Veterans). Post-9/11 Veterans are eligible for three levels of caregivers: one primary caregiver, one or more family caregivers, and one or more general caregivers. General Caregivers for both pre- and post-9/11 Veterans may be eligible to receive educational sessions in person and online, training in how to provide caregiver services, counseling and other services, and information about supportive services available from other public, private and non-profit agencies. Family Caregivers may be eligible for all general caregiver benefits plus may be eligible for ongoing technical support, counseling, lodging, subsistence, and travel benefits. Primary caregivers may be eligible to receive these same benefits, as well as, a stipend, mental health services, and access to health care coverage, if they are not already entitled to care or services under a health plan contract, including Medicare, Medicaid or worker’s compensation. Primary caregivers must be a family member or a person who resides with the Veteran. Respite services of not less than 30 days per year, are made available to primary and family caregivers while attending appointments or undergoing caregiver training for post-9/11 Veterans. All caregivers of both pre- and post-9/II Veterans are eligible to receive respite care under VA’s existing program, which provides up to 30 days per year.