Bipartisan legislation provides support and resources to the millions of caregivers who help veterans
Washington, D.C. - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined a bipartisan group of members to introduce legislation in both the Senate and the House to expand a program that helps those who care for wounded, ill, or injured veterans. The Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act would open the program to veterans of all generations, making resources available to additional family members and loved ones who have taken on a caregiver role.
"Family caregivers play a critical, and sometimes underappreciated, role in supporting veteran family members," Bennet said. "This bill will create more opportunities to assist those loved ones who dedicate much of their own lives to those who have sacrificed in service to our nation."
A RAND study commissioned by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, titled "Hidden Heroes: America's Military Caregivers," demonstrated that caregivers, often a spouse, parent, child, or even a close friend, sacrifice their own physical, emotional, and financial well-being in order to provide care to service members and veterans. The caregivers' work improves quality of life and can result in faster and improved rehabilitation and recovery. This legislation recognizes that sacrifice and offers support services.
Among other measures, the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act would:
- Make veterans of all eras eligible for caregiver support services. Currently, only post-9/11 veterans are eligible.
- Make the program more inclusive of mental health injuries.
- Reauthorize the Lifespan Respite Care Act and expand essential respite options for caregivers.
- Give veterans the opportunity to transfer GI Bill benefits to a dependent, to help unemployed or underemployed spouses of injured veterans prepare to become the primary income for the family.
- Make caregivers who work in the federal government eligible for flexible work schedules.
- Provide assistance with childcare, financial advice and legal counseling, which are all top, and currently unmet, needs.