Costello & Esty Introduce CARE for All Veterans Act
Bipartisan legislation would expand care for all caregivers of veterans.
Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Ryan Costello (R-PA) and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) introduced HR 2894: the Caregivers Access and Responsible Expansion (CARE) for All Veterans Act in an effort to increase access to the current VA Caregiver Support Program to all service-era veterans. The CARE for All Veterans Act treats veterans of all service-eras equally by gradually granting access to pre-9/11 veteran caregivers and prioritizing the veterans most in need.
“We owe it to all of our veterans to ensure they are receiving the care and services they deserve,” said Congressman Ryan Costello. “That means ensuring their loved ones and caregivers have the proper training, support services, travel expenses, healthcare, and respite care to provide the best in-home care for veterans. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the veterans population is rapidly aging and relying on family members and loved ones to provide care. I have heard from my constituents, and many have expressed concerns and questions as to why they are not eligible to participate in the VA Caregiver Support Program. I believe family caregivers provide crucial support in caring for our nation’s heroes and they too deserve quality care.”
“Our courageous veterans who received a serious injury in service to their country, and the family members who have sacrificed so much to care for these heroes, deserve better than an inequitable system,” said Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty. “I have heard from Connecticut veterans of World War II, Vietnam, and other eras who do not understand why they can’t access this invaluable assistance. Instead of wasting time on partisan bills that are going nowhere, we need to work on bipartisan solutions to ensure that our veterans of every generation have the support and care they need.”
“Caregivers are one of the most important factors in the health and well–being of wounded, injured and ill veterans and we firmly believe that all disabled veterans have earned the same benefits, regardless of when they served,” said Ron Hope, National Commander for Disabled American Veteran (DAV) organization. “We applaud Representatives Esty and Costello’s efforts to extend caregiver benefits to veterans of all eras, to include those who suffered illness, traumatic brain injuries and other psychological traumas, and to expand the program in a way that maintains high quality service and eases financial concerns while still actively moving toward full equality of eligibility.”
"We believe that the well-being of ALL wounded, ill, or injured veterans no matter their era of service is of the utmost importance,” said State Commander Walter Simpson, DAV Department of Pennsylvania. “Caregivers provide a service that contributes greatly to the health and well-being of our veterans. The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Department of Pennsylvania salutes the efforts of Representatives Costello and Esty to extent caregiver benefits to all veterans and expands the program to provide that a high quality service will be maintained while easing financial concerns.”
A caregiver must be 18 years of age and can be a family member, friend or someone who lives with the veteran full time. Often, the dedication and time to caring and supporting a veteran in their daily activities can take an emotional and physical toll on the caregiver and loved one, and these support services provide an invaluable assistance.
Services provided by the Caregiver Support Program 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)
Currently, the VA Caregiver Support Program is limited to post-9/11 veterans and excludes all members who have served in previous service-eras. This legislation, responsibly grows the program to create an equitable system for our nation’s veterans. If signed into law, it would provide additional assistance to primary Family Caregivers of eligible pre-9/11 veterans.
Under H.R. 2894 the following veterans are eligible for the VA Caregiver Support Program:
- 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
- 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.
On May 5, 2010 the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 was signed into law. This legislation provided the needed investment in supporting the family caregivers of our veterans, however, it limited the service to post 9/11 veterans only.
The RAND Corporation study, “Hidden Heroes: America’s Military Caregivers,” estimates that there are 5.5 million military caregivers in the United States and only 19.6% care for post 9/11 era veterans. Congress has provided a great first step in giving our post-9/11 veterans access to caregivers, but this legislation ensures that all generations of services members have the accessibility to the VA Caregiver Support Program.
Congressman Ryan Costello is a Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and represents portions of Berks, Chester, Lebanon and Montgomery Counties in Pennsylvania.
Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty represents portions of Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield and New Haven Counties in Connecticut.