I am writing today to urge you to support and cosponsor passage of S. 851, the Caregivers Expansion and Improvement Act of 2013, introduced by Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders on April 25, 2013. This legislation is important to me and millions of veterans and their families.
It is my understanding that the program and stipend were developed for low functioning veterans, that otherwise would have to be placed in an institution or nursing home. It was also originally slated to include ALL veterans but ended up only including post 9/11 veterans.
Many caregivers had to stop working in order to care for their ill veteran who could not take care of themselves, therefore having to completely change their way of living in order to make ends meet and many are just barely getting by because of that. In doing so they also gave up health insurance and many now have NO health insurance at all, including no dental or vision.
Being included in the Veteran Caregiver program would allow ALL caregivers the benefits they need and earned.
Please allow veteran caregivers from ALL eras to participate in this much needed program. I understand one might argue the country is in financial distress and the funds are not available. However, it will cost the government more if we were to place our spouses in the nursing home versus providing us a stipend.
For example, to place someone in a nursing home costs at least $70,000, often more depending on the state, per year. That is a lot more than the stipend a caregiver would receive via the veteran caregiver program, which pays below $34,000 per year for the highest tier.
For too many years we have been struggling day to day emotionally, physically, and financially just to keep our injured veterans at home. It is past time for this suffering to stop and the veterans as well as their families are compensated appropriately for the many sacrifices they made for their country. The VA’s motto of “To care for him who bore the battle” needs to be put into action by allowing ALL veteran caregivers the same compensation and stipends to help ease their financial burdens. Otherwise you are saying one veteran or set of veterans is more important than another, which is just not true.
You have been a strong advocate for veterans and their families and we hope you will continue to be so.
I again implore you to support and cosponsor the passage of S. 851, the Caregivers Expansion and Improvement Act of 2013.
Thank you for your time. I anticipate hearing from you on supporting and cosponsoring the passage of S. 851, the Caregivers Expansion and Improvement Act of 2013.