There is a job that is difficult yet rewarding, often overlooked yet life-saving. That job is being a caregiver for a United States veteran. For those who served post 911, veterans and their caregivers are already eligible for assistance.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown wants that assistance to be extended to veterans from all wars and their caregivers, so he has joined a bipartisan effort calling for passage of the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act, which would make resources available to eligible family members or loved ones who care for veterans, including child care, financial assistance, and legal counseling. The bill would also give veterans who participate in the program the opportunity to transfer GI benefits to a dependent who acts as a caregiver.
“Whether they served in recent conflicts or sacrificed for us in earlier eras, all of our veterans and the loved ones who care for them deserve our support,” Brown said. “The bill would make caregivers for all veterans, regardless of when they served, eligible for support services. These men and women may not wear a uniform, but they sacrifice for our nation all the same.”
Brown was joined on a conference call Wednesday, which included the Daily Times, by Dannielle Sedam, a Wilmington resident who helps care for her father, a Vietnam veteran.
Sedam wrote to Brown last year after her father suffered a stroke and required constant care. She told Brown she wanted to honor her father’s wishes and care for him at home, but the current program is only for veteran serving post 911.
“Whether they served in recent conflicts or sacrificed for us in earlier eras, all of our veterans and the loved ones who care for them deserve our support,” said Brown. “The bill would make caregivers for all veterans, regardless of when they served, eligible for support services. These men and women may not wear a uniform, but they sacrifice for our nation all the same.”
Sedam spoke of her father’s situation on the call.
“He was diagnosed with FTD last year and he has been battling neuropathy for many years,” Sedam said. “He requires 24 hours supervision because of his declining health, and allowing all of our families to be a part of the Caregiver Act will give families like mine the opportunity to show how much we care for them and love them and give us a chance to give back something when they have given us so much. They all need the reassurance and recognition they deserve.”
FTD or frontotemporal dementia is the leading cause of dementia in middle age.
Currently, post 911 veterans who have sustained a serious mental or physical injury and require assistance carrying out daily living activities are eligible for the VA caregiver program. Brown’s bill would phase in new veterans to the caregiver program based on need to maintain quality service for veterans and their caregivers.
“All those who serve should be able to live life with dignity that fits their service,” Brown said. “When they return, we owe it to these heroes to support them. We owe it to their families to support these additional heroes and to support all of them who care for them.”
Specifically, the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act would:
- ·Extend eligibility for caregiver support services to veterans of all eras
- Allow veterans the opportunity to transfer GI Bill benefits to a dependent
- Include a broader range of injuries eligible for the caregiver program, including a greater emphasis on mental health injuries
- Expand child care and respite services and provide stipends to offset costs associated with child care, financial advice, and legal counseling
- Coordinate caregiver policies and services among VA departments.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.