Day 11: What is the Veterans Affairs Caregiver Program?

The Government has many systems in place to take care of citizens. Here we’ll take a look at the VA Caregiver Program, a program that assists caregivers and veterans.

Definition of VA Caregiver Program

The Veterans Affairs Caregiver Program is a benefit system that assists caregivers of severely injured veterans. It’s put in place to ease the burden that comes with taking care of an injured veteran, someone who’s put their lives on the line for the country.

There are certain requirements that must be met to be eligible for the program, which we’ll look at next.

How the VA Caregiver Program Works

As mentioned, the VA Caregiver Program helps primary caregivers of severely injured veterans take care of their families. By definition, a caregiver can be a spouse, parent, child, extended family member, or any individual living with a veteran who provides support.

The government provides several benefits to caregivers to make their lives and the lives of the veterans better. These come in the form of health care, counseling, and financial aid.

To be eligible, the caregiver must be taking care of a veteran who:

  • Is unable to perform the activities required to live a normal life, or if they need to be supervised as a result of symptoms related to a neurological impairment.
  • Has a serious injury, including psychological trauma, mental health problems, and traumatic injuries.

The injury itself has to be directly related to the veteran’s military service, and they must be enrolled in VA healthcare.

As of now, only caregivers of veterans who were injured on or after September 11, 2001 qualify for this program. In early 2019, there are plans to allow veterans who suffered an injury prior to May 7, 1975. By 2021, all caregivers of veterans will be eligible for the program.

Benefits for Caregivers

The program provides plenty of support to caregivers. Below you’ll find all of the support you could be qualified for.

  • Caregiver Support Line: As the caregiver of a veteran, it can feel overwhelming at times. Thankfully, there’s a Caregiver Support Line (1-855-260-3274) set-up for those who need assistance. By dialing the number, you can be connected to licensed professional who’s able to listen and provide support. If necessary, they can connect you with VA services or a Caregiver Support Coordinator.
  • Peer Support Mentoring: Looking to speak with people in the same situation as you? Caregivers can partake in peer support mentoring, either serving as a mentor or a mentee for a period of six months. If you’re looking for one-time support, that’s available as well. You’ll get to chat through email or over the phone with your mentor or mentee. It’s the perfect system to help you feel less isolated and cope with the challenges of caregiving, such as caregiver role strain.
  • Building Better Caregivers: If you’re unsure of your skills as a caregiver, the Building Better Caregivers program can give you the necessary the skills. It’s an online workshop that’s been shown to increase caregiver well-being and reduce stress and depression.
  • Caring for Seriously Injured Post-9/11 Veterans: Caregivers of post-9/11 veterans are able to receive Comprehensive Assistance, including health insurance, mental health services, respite care, a monthly stipend, and travel expenses.
  • REACH VA: Caregivers of veterans with dementia, ALS, MS, PTSD, or a spinal cord injury qualify for the REACH VA program. It teaches caregivers the skills needed to take care of their veteran, as well as stress and mood management techniques.

Benefits for Veterans

Aside from caregiver support, veterans also receive direct support through the program. Here are a few benefits that veterans receive.

  • Adult Day Health Care Centers: The Adult Day Health Care Centers give veterans a place to go outside of the home where they can safely be active and enjoy extracurricular activities.
  • Home-Based Primary Care (HBPC): For veterans who have trouble traveling, home-based health care is provided. This includes regular check-ups, physical rehabilitation, social work, and mental health care visits.
  • Home Hospice Care: Caring for anyone with a terminal disease can be immensely stressful. Home Hospice Care is provided to veterans with advanced stages of a terminal disease. Both the caregiver and the veteran receive supportive services made up of an interdisciplinary team of health care providers. Grief counseling is also provided when necessary.
  • Home Telehealth: If you don’t live close to a VA medical center, Home Telehealth can connect caregivers and veterans to a coordinator through telephone or computer. Through this you can receive support groups and training.
  • Respite Care: Every caregiver needs a day away to relax. Veterans are eligible for 30 days of respite care every year. It can be provided in a VA community living center, in your own home, or an adult day health care center.
  • Skilled Home Care: This is similar to Home-Based Primary Care, but involves a non-VA medical professional working in the home at zero cost to you.

The VA Caregiver Program is an important service that supports both disabled veterans and their caregivers. If you’re caring for a veteran, find out if you qualify for these valuable services and take advantage of all the benefits the program has to offer.

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