Schwab Highlights Gaps and Opportunities in the VA Caregiver Support Program
Washington, D.C. – Steven Schwab, Executive Director of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, testified today before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs on the role of military caregivers, and their experiences with the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC), a critical program that provides stipends for caregivers.
“Congress initially intended the PCAFC to serve a small number of caregivers – those supporting only the most catastrophically wounded, post-9/11 veterans. Upon executing the program, the VA realized that many more caregivers needed this kind of support than originally anticipated, and the PCAFC expanded to serve more than 26,000 caregivers,” according to Schwab in his prepared testimony. “This is nearly three times the number of caregivers for which the VA initially planned, and has led to significant implementation and administrative challenges.”
As the only national non-profit organization focused exclusively on America’s 5.5 million military and veteran caregivers, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation has a unique vantage point when it comes to the role the VA and its programs play in the day-to-day lives of caregivers. The Foundation works closely with the department and its leadership to ensure caregivers are supported, empowered, and have the resources available to properly care for their loved ones. As the Foundation’s seminal study on military caregivers, conducted by RAND, points out, “A well-supported caregiver is the single most important factor in a wounded warrior’s recovery.”
To address the needs of caregivers, Schwab outlined three recommendations for the Committee to consider, including:
- Improving consistency and accountability in the execution of the program.
- Clearly defining and communicating the program’s eligibility requirements.
- Effectively communicating to Veterans and their caregivers all the programs and services available to them.
“I am pleased that the House Committee on Veterans Affairs called this hearing, and even more pleased that they are taking the insights from military caregivers seriously,” Schwab said. “Our focus has been on understanding and addressing the needs of military caregivers, and programs like the PCAFC are a critical component to ensuring their voices are heard and their needs are met.”
To see the livestream video of the hearing, please visit: https://veterans.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=2034