Senators want caregiver benefits phased in for older veterans
Stars and Stripes
By Tom Philpott
Special to Stars and Stripes
Published: May 5, 2016
There are problems with the program, but the VA alone isn’t to blame, said Adrian Atizado, deputy legislative director for Disabled American Veterans, whose national service officers field caregiver complaints. Congress underfunded it.A showpiece of the Veterans First package that the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee unveiled last week is a multibillion-dollar initiative to phase in for older generations of severely injured veterans robust caregiver benefits first enacted in 2010 only for the post-9/11 generation.
Though it’s only part of a huge omnibus bill containing many veteran reform measures that senators previously introduced as separate bills, the plan to expand caregiver benefit coverage carries the biggest price tag. The early estimate is $3.1 billion over its first five years.
For in-home caregivers of thousands of vets with severe physical or mental injuries, it would mean cash stipends for their time and effort, health insurance if caregivers have none, guaranteed periods of paid respite to avoid caregiver burnout and training to enhance patient safety.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., prime architect of the caregiver expansion plan, negotiated with Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., the committee chairman, to secure a modified plan that could be funded with budget offsets and gain bipartisan support on the committee. That should improve its chances of becoming law despite still formidable obstacles ahead.
read more here
Older veterans came home with the same wounds and the same long waits for Congress to fix the VA. After all, Congress has had since 1946 to fix it. While you have salamanders running the show then running from their own records, at the same time they want to send veterans away from the VA while screaming about how bad civilian healthcare is, you get a predicted outcome. Much like salamanders can be used to protect, they can also be deadly and that is what we really need to talk about.
Did you know that older veterans are the majority of the backlog of claims? They are also the largest percentage of veterans committing suicide. Top that off with the fact that no wound created with military service is new and the toll on families is just as harsh for us, but we've been struggling for decades while fighting for the generations coming after us.
Seems like we did a pretty good job on that end but as for taking care of our own, we pretty much suck at it. We let the Caregivers Bill be pushed through Congress even though it didn't include us. We let all these neophytes running around the country screaming about raising awareness when they didn't even bother to get a clue first that when it comes to the problems veterans face, they are new to the road all too well traveled. There isn't much they have to teach us and they don't care about what we want to teach them so they have it all easier.
What makes all this taste even more bitter is that no one in our generation wants them to lose anything. We want them to have what they paid for and what they wouldn't need if they did not risk their lives serving this country.
Given the choice between letting them have it all or no one getting anything, older veterans would step out of line but in a nation with so many bumper slogans about how much our veterans mean to the rest of the country, it seems reprehensible they would ever have to face a choice like that at all.
Do we really care about our veterans or don't we?