VA has long supported Family Caregivers as vital partners in providing care worthy of the sacrifices by America's Veterans and Servicemembers. Each VA medical center has a Caregiver Support Program coordinated by a Caregiver Support Coordinator (CSC). The CSC coordinates Caregiver activities and serve as a resource expert for Veterans, their families and VA providers. Several programs are available for all Veteran Caregivers including:
In-Home and Community Based Care: Skilled home health care, homemaker/home health aide services, community adult day health care and Home Based Primary Care.
Respite Care: 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: VA currently provides 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. VA has a Caregiver web site, www.caregiver.va.gov, which provides tools, resources, and information to Family Caregivers.
Family Support Services: These support groups can be face-to-face or on the telephone. They include family counseling, spiritual and pastoral care, family leisure and recreational activities and temporary lodging in Fisher Houses.
Travel: VA's Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Program entitles the designated family caregiver to beneficiary travel benefits. These benefits include:
- Transport, lodging, and subsistence for period of Caregiver training
- Transport, lodging, and subsistence while traveling as Veteran's attendant to and from VA Healthcare as well as duration of care at VA or VA authorized facility.
- Mileage or common carrier transport.
- Lodging and/or subsistence at 50 percent of local federal employee rates
Other Benefits: 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, the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 was signed into law. Title I of the Act will allow VA to provide unprecedented benefits to eligible Caregivers (a parent, spouse, child, step-family member, extended family member, or an individual who lives with the Veteran, but is not a family member) who support the Veterans who have given so much for this Nation. The law distinguishes between Veterans who incurred or aggravated a serious injury in the line of duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001 (post-9/11 Veterans), and those Veterans whose injuries were incurred prior to Sept. 11, 2001 (pre-9/11 Veterans).
The new 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)