Senators Rounds and Durbin introduce bi-partisan Caregiver Program Information Improvement Act of 2017
Washington, June 27, 2017 – The Elizabeth Dole Foundation applauds U.S. Senator Rounds (R-SD) and Senator Durbin (D-IL) for introducing legislation to help ensure that military caregivers and their wounded warriors are fully aware of the services available to them through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) caregiver program. If enacted, The Caregiver Program Information Improvement Act of 2017 would require the VA caregiver program to be added to the list of statutorily-mandated counseling items for service members to learn about pending their separation from the Department of Defense (DoD).
This legislation falls on the heels of a highly active month for the military caregiving cause on Capitol Hill, with three separate congressional hearings focused on this underserved population, including a hearing hosted by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, “Military Caregivers: Families Serving for the Long Run.” At the hearing, Senator Elizabeth Dole testified on behalf of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, and was joined by actor and Hidden Heroes Ambassador Ryan Phillippe, a representative from the RAND Corporation, and three military caregivers. They urged members of Congress to enact current pieces of legislation benefiting military caregivers and to invest in necessary research to better serve caregivers, our nation’s Hidden Heroes.
“This legislation will go a long way toward supporting military families’ transition between the DoD and the VA, and most importantly their transition from military service to civilian life,” says Senator Elizabeth Dole, founder of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and it’s Hidden Heroes initiative to empower military caregivers. “We know by formally including military caregivers – the spouses, parents, siblings, and loved ones of injured warriors – in the counseling process during transition, we will greatly improve their veteran’s outcomes and quality of life. By educating caregivers on the resources available to them through the VA Caregiver Program, we empower them to be proactive in finding support for themselves down the line. And when a caregiver is empowered and supported, they are better able to care for their veteran as well. ”
Currently, the VA Caregiver Program provides services to eligible military caregivers who support a seriously wounded, ill or injured veteran in need of personal, daily care services. Resources available to caregivers through the program include travel expenses, access to health care insurance, respite, mental health services and counseling, VA caregiver training and a monthly stipend. The program is currently under VA review, and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, its partners and military caregivers continue to actively work with the VA on the program’s improvement and sustainability.
The new legislation would also include:
- A requirement that all service members be asked if they have a caregiver at home, and
- A requirement for identified caregivers to be invited into appropriate sessions of DoD pre-separation counselling with the transitioning service member in order to facilitate a better understanding of the services available to the caregiver, and the impact of the transition on the caregiver as well as the service member.
“On behalf of 5.5 million military caregivers in this country, we urge all legislators to support this vital legislation,” adds Dole.
About Elizabeth Dole Foundation:
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is the preeminent organization empowering, supporting, and honoring our nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers – the spouses, parents, family members, and friends who care for America’s wounded, ill, or injured veterans at home. Founded by Senator Elizabeth Dole in 2012, the Foundation adopts a comprehensive approach in its support and advocacy, working with leaders in the public, private, nonprofit, and faith communities to recognize military caregivers’ service and promote their well-being. Learn more about the Elizabeth Dole Foundation at www.elizabethdolefoundation.org
The Hidden Heroes Campaign, an initiative of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, brings vital attention to the untold stories of military caregivers and provides a safe, secure place where caregivers can meet and access carefully vetted resources at HiddenHeroes.org. Another aspect of the Campaign, Hidden Heroes Cities, is an effort to galvanize local leaders across America to identify military caregivers in their communities and the local resources to support them. To date, 100 cities from San Francisco to New York, from Chicago to new Orleans have signed on. Learn more about Hidden Heroes at www.hiddenheroes.org