Monday, November 9, 2015

Air Force Veteran Stuck Without Care for Alzheimer's

Air Force vet can't find care
Daily Press
Prue Salasky
November 8, 2015
The VA has developed "care sheets" for people who take care of veterans with Alzheimer's, PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Its website says bluntly, "Currently there is no treatment to stop or reverse Alzheimer's disease." It advises that a caretaker's life "may change dramatically as you adjust your already busy schedule to include increasing care needs for the veteran you care for."
At age 53, Jim Garner is losing his battle for his mind with Early Onset Alzheimer's. Garner was rejected as too young for clinical trials for Alzheimer's and is still too young for federally funded care. Garner was diagnosed by the National Institute of Health in 2011 with "mild cognitive impairment," the precursor to early-onset Alzheimer's disease. The genetically pre-determined disease has devastated his family--his mother died of the disease at age 61, his older brother at 52. (Kaitlin McKeown/Daily Press)
NEWPORT NEWS — He served honorably in the Air Force for 23 years as a radar tech. He didn't see combat and wasn't disabled when he retired.

As an enlisted man, Newport News resident Jim Garner qualified for a military pension. He supplemented that income with a civilian job that suited his fix-it talents, and continued working in retirement to support his family.

Half a dozen years after retiring from the Air Force, he was diagnosed with "mild cognitive impairment," a precursor to Alzheimer's, the degenerative brain disease that has no treatment or cure.

He was 48 years old and the father of two young children, daughter Frankie, then 9, and son Bradley, then 6.

How would the family manage without a breadwinner? Who would take care of Jim while his wife, Karen, went to work? What would happen when he could no longer live at home? What community programs could provide the care needed for a progressive chronic disease in someone too young to qualify for federally supported senior programs?
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This is the Caregivers Act
Services for Family Caregivers of Post-9/11 Veterans

Family Caregivers provide crucial support in caring for Veterans. VA recognizes that Family Caregivers in a home environment can enhance the health and well-being of Veterans under VA care.

Under the "Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010," additional VA services are now available to seriously injured post-9/11 Veterans and their Family Caregivers through a new program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. VA is now accepting applications for these services.

Who Is Eligible?

Veterans eligible for this program are those who sustained a serious injury – including traumatic brain injury, psychological trauma or other mental disorder – incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, on or after September 11, 2001.

Veterans eligible for this program must also be in need of personal care services because of an inability to perform one or more activities of daily living and/or need supervision or protection based on symptoms or residuals of neurological impairment or injury.

To be eligible for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, Veterans must first be enrolled for VA health services, if not enrolled previously.

Services Available to Family Caregivers through this Program

The law will provide additional assistance to primary Family Caregivers of eligible post-9/11 Veterans and Servicemembers. Services for this group include:
Monthly stipend
Travel expenses (including lodging and per diem while accompanying Veterans undergoing care)
Access to health care insurance (if the Caregiver is not already entitled to care or services under a health care plan)
Mental health services and counseling
Comprehensive VA Caregiver training provided by Easter Seals
Respite care (not less than 30 days per year)