Veteran caregivers completely fulfill President Abraham Lincoln’s charge to care for those who have borne the battle, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said Feb. 24 at an online forum.

Speaking at an Elizabeth Dole Foundation event, McDonough said he will fight for both Veterans and families.

“A key priority of the president’s guidance is to keep faith with families and caregivers,” he said.

Caregivers have seen increasing support through VA. However, more needs to be done.

“We now have a caregiver support program that offers a full menu of services for those caring for Veterans,” he said. He then cited items such as home care and telehealth, with those appointments increasing more than 1,000% during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He emphasized that family caregivers who are enrolled in VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, or PCAFC, are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination when the Veteran they care for becomes eligible. VA will tell the family caregiver if they can get a vaccine when VA invites the Veteran to get one.

“One of the most important things we can do for caregivers is to help them take care of themselves as they so selflessly take care of others,” he added. “Now, there’s more to do.”

McDonough cited the example of Jack and Jean King. Jack, a Vietnam Veteran, recently received a non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage 4 diagnosis. Jean left her medical career to support and care for her husband as his caregiver. She had to learn quickly about VA’s programs. Receiving help from Tiffany Pundai, a VA Caregiver Support Program social worker, Jean praised VA for the assistance.

“We are just so grateful for VA,” she said. “Without them, I don’t know what we would have done.”

After citing the example for the audience, McDonough acknowledged that caregivers need VA just as much as VA needs caregivers. “What would we do without you?” he asked, before noting that that level of support for caregivers should be the standard.

“That’s the kind of expert, compassionate support we owe caregivers and Veterans,” he said. “It’s the kind of positive experiences we owe Veterans and caregivers across the country. The president has demanded that we hear, improve and expand VA support to better meet all caregivers’ needs.”

McDonough pledged to continue implementing programs to support caregivers. These include the Campaign for Inclusive Care, which seeks to include caregivers into Veterans’ medical teams, and fully expanding Mission Act eligibility to all generations.

Next up, McDonough supports better understanding the impact of care on Veterans’ children and how to better serve them. He said the Veterans’ Family, Caregiver, and Survivor Advisory Committee advises VA on programs to better help provide benefits.

VA will work on changing policies and finding areas of opportunity to improve caregiver support, said Meg Kabat, senior advisor to the secretary for families, caregivers, and survivors.

“We can actually do quite a bit to support families,” Kabat said. “We could be doing more.”

She also said VA will work on expanding Veterans’ experience to include Veterans, families and caregivers.

“Veterans experience means the experience of all those who support the Veteran as well,” Kabat said.

Kabat echoed that VA will continue to collaborate with partners, highlighting past successes as expanding telehealth through free cellular data, providing technology for Veterans, and Project Atlas, which gives Veterans access to telehealth.

More information

Spouses, dependents and survivors can receive a variety of benefits through VA. These can range from education and training through the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program to life insurance to compensation for surviving spouse and dependents.

For more information on VA benefits for spouses, dependents, survivors and family caregivers, visit

Learn more

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation empowers, supports and honors the nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers; the spouses, parents, family members and friends who care for America’s wounded, ill, or injured veterans.

The Hidden Heroes Caregiver Community (HHCC) is an online support group that offers a positive place for military caregivers of all eras to connect with one another. Moderated by caregivers, military caregivers can share their stories, seek advice and find commonality in the challenges they face. Military caregivers can register and join the HHCC at

TAPS provides comfort, care and resources to all those grieving the death of a military loved one. Since 1994, TAPS has provided comfort and hope 24/7 through a national peer support network and connection to grief resources. These services are no cost to surviving families and loved ones.

By Air Force Veteran Adam Stump is a member of VA's Digital Media Engagement team.

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Published on Feb. 25, 2021

Estimated reading time is 3.8 min.

Views to date: 464


  1. M.McNeil March 11, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    “Family caregivers who are enrolled in VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, or PCAFC, are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination when the Veteran they care for becomes eligible.”

    What about caregivers in the Veteran Directed Care (VDC) Program? These caregivers get little to no support from the VA and, typically, their spouse cannot qualify under PCAFC.
    1. Please consider VDC Caregivers in the services you provide.
    2. Make Veteran Directed Care a mandated program!

  2. Georgia Link March 7, 2021 at 10:53 am

    My husband has 60% disability rating because of hearing loss, will a decrease in hearing enable him to receive a higher rating? Just wondering because now he has other non service related disabilities, blind and spinal stenosis and require a great deal more care, with daily living. Per his last hearing evaluation, he had a decrease in hearing and needed an upgrade in hearing aids. Just curious.

  3. PaulaMinger March 6, 2021 at 9:44 am

    2009-10 CONGRESS and VSOs made a real mess out of this great program by denying it to 100% physically wounded because they were wounded prior to 9/11 then giving it to POST 9/11 w PTSD no VA rating needed

    90% of the POST 9/11 Caregivers being paid deal w a vet claiming PTSD

    PRE9/11 are now eligible and most often deal with physical,wounds

    It will take awhile to iron out the problems Congress /VSOs made in 2010

  4. James Gentry March 5, 2021 at 3:50 pm

    During a previous administration, the Secretary of the VA determined that if Opioid pain killers were taken away from veterans, all of the street drug problems would be solved. This, from a political appointee with no credentials. This dumb move is still in effect. With severe back problems plus diabetes 2 from Agent Orange in Vietnam, I have to go to a private pain specialist for medicine, which I pay for. I wonder, just how effective was this directive? Did it remove drugs from the streets?

  5. Peggy Kimbrell March 5, 2021 at 12:42 pm

    To David Trujillo – try this number 866-487-4243. I am in Alabama and called and got an appointment for my husband in 2 days. He has had both shots now. I don’t know haw different the process is in different states, but you should get mare answers than to wait for a call. Best of luck.

  6. Alrighty Then March 4, 2021 at 7:42 pm

    He’s not a veteran and not a doctor. Just a politcal hack rewarded with a job he is not qualified for

  7. JANICE V WALLACE March 4, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    I applied/requested to get caregiver compensation several times and I was denied/turned down every time. My husband have a prosthetic left eye and very poor vision in his right eye, legally blind per VA doctors, a desert shield desert storm and 25 year 100% disable veteran. I am really his personal nurse than his wife. Taking him to-from doctors appointments, giving him medicines, baths/showers, helping dress…

  8. Peggye Baker March 4, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    I agree. My spouse is 100% disabled and we were recently informed that he does not qualify for the caregiver program.
    Peggye Baker

  9. Jacki Baker2 March 4, 2021 at 1:55 pm

    I fought for 10 years to try to get some caregiver compensation to be turned down every time, my husband died last June, we could have really benefited from this.

  10. Richard Diehl March 4, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    I was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease, why was my compensation not automatically upgraded? Instead I have to file for it and will only be compensated from the date I file instead of when it was diagnosed. The responsability seems to be placed on the veteran instead of automatically be upgraded by the VA. If I had not read of the Parkinsons inclusion and inquired of my local VA rep I would have lost out on considerable compensation. The VA should have sent out a email concerning parkinsons inclusion in the Vietnaam Veteran Agent Orange Veterans program ,It should happen automatically

    • PaulaMinger March 6, 2021 at 9:55 am

      I didn’t know this. Thanks!

  11. Steve Postier March 4, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    I am a Vietnam Veteran age 71 and 100% disabled per the VA and I have the same question as:
    Robert S. pickard March 3, 2021 at 9:33 pm Reply
    I am a veteran with 70 percent disability
    I am 83 and would like to know when I die will my wife still receive my monthly financial support that I have been receiving.
    Thank you
    Robert Pickard

    • Dan Chuhran March 4, 2021 at 5:57 pm

      Your spouse needs to apply for Survivors benefits with your local regional office when you pass.

    • PaulaMinger March 6, 2021 at 9:46 am

      She will not receive any of it. That’s a major issues for wives of disabled PRE 9/11 vets

      It certainly needs to be addressed

  12. Lesley Dowden March 4, 2021 at 11:30 am

    The care giver program still makes the vet jump through hoops to show he needs the support, just like he had to prove that the disability rating needs increasing.

    • PaulaMinger March 6, 2021 at 9:48 am

      The process was not difficult for us and in the end I had learned more than I ever knew before What did you find hard?

  13. SANDY TIMBLIN March 4, 2021 at 9:39 am

    I love what you do for the Veterans. One thing I think should be looked at is when a Vet is on disability, if they are on 100% and they pass the spouse gets a portion of that. I think it should be looked into that if a Vet is on disability, but a lower % the spouse should be given a portion of that if the Veteran passes also. They need the help also.

  14. Anne Dailey March 4, 2021 at 8:15 am

    I am wondering why Attendants through your A&A Program are not included in the population who may receive the vaccine through the VA.
    Thank you!

  15. Jim Anderson March 4, 2021 at 12:44 am

    Yea, we care about, and love the care givers!– – – – – – Unless you are a Desert Storm Veteran.

  16. Robert S. pickard March 3, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    I am a veteran with 70 percent disability
    I am 83 and would like to know when I die will my wife still receive my monthly financial support that I have been receiving.
    Thank you
    Robert Pickard 2905

  17. Christopher Price March 3, 2021 at 9:04 pm

    I’d like to know why home adaptation grants can only be given to those that have lost a limb or an eye. Many of us have invisible yet diagnosed and rated debilitating conditions that we can’t get our homes adapted for. My severe physical conditions could really use a walk in tub with hydrojets. VA policy doesnt allow for jacuzzis, so they lump this important device under hot tube that are used for recreation. It’s very unfair and let’s see how badly this new director wants to help those of us with wounds that are invisible. Thank You.


    Christopher C. Price, CWO3, USN (Ret)

  18. David Trujillo March 3, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    What is the latest on the vaccinations? Information has been little to none. I got a don’t call us we’ll call you at my local VA. Any information would be greatly appreciated.I am 100 pet cent disabled with high blood pressure and diabetes and chronic pain. I am 72 yrs old.

  19. Quent Kinderman March 3, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    Not mentioned, but important to the message is that Mr. King, a Vietnam veteran suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, would be service connected under the “Agent Orange” rules.
    When treating a veteran with service in Vietnam, VA should be alert to providing all the benefits including disability compensation and survivors benefits to which he/she is entitled.

  20. Clarence Williams March 3, 2021 at 5:36 pm

    I have taken both covid 19 vaccines and no problems. I would encourage all veterans to take the vaccines.

  21. joseph boyd March 3, 2021 at 5:33 pm

    i was told wife has to wait for help from caregiver program till 2024?????..i was in 1978-1982 ….

Comments are closed.

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