caregiverFor even the most organized people, unexpected health concerns can turn their life upside down. For those who find themselves in the role of the family caregiver caring for our nation’s Veterans, support is available from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Debra knows. Her son, a young Marine, was severely injured in a motorcycle accident. With a spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury, he would need 24/7 health care. After getting the news, Debra took a deep breath, grieved the loss of who her son had been, then accepted and loved who he had become.

With support from the Marine Corps, she moved into a house that worked better for both of them, and she learned more about TBI and SCI.

rotate_careDebra appreciated finding out that she was eligible for comprehensive family caregiver services and training from VA and often praises the Building Better Caregivers™  which is available to caregivers. The workshop is a free online, interactive six-week program designed to help caregivers more effectively solve problems, and manage their emotions, stress and physical health. More than 2,800 caregivers have been referred to the workshop which is provided through a partnership with the National Council on Aging.

Caregivers can sign up for the Building Better Caregivers™ workshop by contacting their local Caregiver Support Coordinator, by visiting and using the zip code look-up feature.

“The BBC is great,” Debra said.

In fact, Debra went a step further and became a VA Peer Support Mentor in a program that matches more experienced caregivers with less experienced caregivers. They share their experiences, wisdom and skills.

In addition, Debra counts on the continued support of other caregivers through an online alumni community launched August 2013, with 665 participants currently.

Callout_Caregiver-Support-LineShe also includes respite care in her schedule after realizing the value of taking some time for herself. VA provides enhanced respite support for Veterans and their primary caregivers enrolled in the new program, as part of the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. VA respite options include in-home respite, when someone comes into the home to provide caregiving for the Veteran while the caregiver is away. There are also adult day care programs, in which Veteran can socialize by participating in a full day of programs; and out-of-home respite, which is offered at VA Medical Centers, VA Community Living Centers, or in assisted-living communities and community nursing homes.

Visit to learn  more about the support and services available to the Caregivers of Veterans.

Editor’s note: Although PL 111-163 only allowed VA to provide certain services to family caregivers of post 9/11 Veterans, VA has several programs and services for caregivers of all era Veterans, including Building Better Caregivers and the Caregiver Peer Support Mentoring Program, both mentioned in the article. Please contact your Caregiver Support Coordinator to find out more information.

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Published on Jul. 9, 2014

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  1. Dawn July 10, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Also – keep in mind there is a line between being a good mother or wife – there are things I do for my children and husband – but it does not mean they NEED a caregiver – I help with appointments, meds, etc…that is a good parent or spouse – caregivers are NEEDED to survive outside of a nursing care – the person truly could not function on their own without someone caring for them…this tends to get muddled. I do a lot of caretaking for my family as I should – does not mean they need a caregiver

  2. Dawn July 10, 2014 at 10:21 am

    For the older Veterans that may need this level of care – check with your local Veteran service officer – this can be through DAV, American Legion, VFW, purple heart association – etc…and see if you qualify for what they call aid and attendance.

  3. milan B. lemmon July 9, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    My wife is an excellent caregiver which she provides my insulin shots, cooks my meals,and drives me to my appointments to the VA hospital also.

  4. John R. July 9, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    How come many service connected disabled Veterans are suffering while trying to get care, but a Marine riding his motorcycle most likely without a helmet which is NOT service connected can get tons of services and not to mention the post 9-11 care stipend? There are many Veteran’s spouses who can’t work due to taking care of pre 9-11 Veterans and there are many post 9-11 Veterans abusing this stipend especially when both are also working, but somehow are unable to care for themselves? I am a Marine and the fraud going on and over abuse of the provisions only for the post 9-11 personnel is getting ridiculous, there are Veterans around pre 9-11 also who need help and really do deserve it. STOP THE SEGREGATION OF VETERANS, either you are a Veteran and service connected disabled or you or not. Being disabled due to ones service and rated for it needs to cover all Veterans.

    • Dawn July 10, 2014 at 10:38 am

      I agree about the abuses of the system….unfortunately people ‘sell out’ their integrity – i have learned that some people’s integrity and honesty and dignity go for a very small price. There are those truly with no honor. But there are also those that have a tremendous amount of it…let us not forget those that do not take advantage and have served with honor and dignity and have maintained their integrity through this all – for they are the true heroes!

    • Don Gokey July 10, 2014 at 10:43 am

      You are right, John (and other who posted). For a service connected post 9/11 veteran, the VA provides many bonuses, including full Caregiver support services. For pre 9/11 veterans, there are no Caregiver services provided. Pre-9/11 veterans have suffered the longest with their disabilities. Apparently, the VA has decided that if you have suffered for so long, and you are still around, then you must not need VA help. It looks like the promise is also dead that would “later” “someday” provide care-giving to all disabled veterans equally. Old veterans die in despair while waiting, with few who care.

      Fairness and logic would have said to start the Caregiver program eligibility based on the percentage (%) of service-connected disability.

    • Anita July 20, 2014 at 10:27 pm

      I agree there is a big difference in the way pre and post 9/11 veterans are treated. My husband is a disabled vet with a TBI form 1977, the Air Force put him out and gave me/us no guide lines on his care. He entered the care of the VA in 1979 and they did little better than the AF. He was given a few pills and asked to show up and talk at the mental health clinic from time to time until he started having grand maul seizures. Then he was handed off to neurology. In 2004 a kind driver in our great state drove on top of our car and added a spinal cord injury to his problems. His application for aid and attendance was denied because his need if from the non-service condition. I have cared for my husband and watched his personality change over the years, he handles stress poorly, his impulse control has diminished, his zest for life has faded greatly in short I am watching the man I love become trapped in his own mind. But as long as he shows up and they see he can speak to them they give him his meds and ask him to come back in a few months to do it again.

      Great for this family they are getting the services they want to make their lives easier but for each of them there are 25 that are not. All any of the vets or their families ask is to have an even playing field. This story sounds as if this vet became disabled due to his motorcycle accident if that is not the case they need to clarify that fact. My husband is 100% total and permanent and was denied due to the fact the auto accident cause the need.

      I say something is wrong or missing in this story.

  5. victor m. zavala July 9, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    I am a Korea Veteran with 70% VA Rating and my wife help me when she can cause she work, I need help with my personal care and meals through out the day. I have no one to feed me or do for me like needing help after using the rest room and shower and in the kitchen to open a can of food ect…how can my wife become my caregiver for me as a disable veteran.

    • miranda July 9, 2014 at 10:12 pm

      Sadly the caregiver program is only covering those who are post 9/11 vets. If you are declared incompetent then you may qualify but you really don’t want to do that. Wish It was different and no one thinks its far.

      • miranda July 9, 2014 at 10:17 pm

        I care care of my grandpa (Korea era vet). He needs much more help then my husband (post 9/11 vet but he still needs a lot of help) So I care for both of them I was before and I will with or without the program

  6. Carmen Cantalupo July 9, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    This is a Lie stop it with this dung you help no one even us Veterans you throw us to the dogs I have been trying for Twenty-one years to get a 100 rating for damaging my ears. You’er lying Like your boss.

    • Jeff July 16, 2014 at 7:25 pm

      Try getting a job instead of feeding off the government for your ‘ears’.

    • JimSFret July 25, 2014 at 10:17 am

      You EARNED those benefits. There is no shame in accepting help and money for which you paid for with your service. This is not welfare. You earned it and most of Americans agree. There is a difference.

Comments are closed.

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