Those of us who care deeply about military and veteran caregivers – the 5.5 million Americans who provide care to service members and veterans from all eras of war – have a good reason to celebrate the omnibus spending bill that President Trump signed into law this afternoon. We are pleased to report that nearly $840 million has been allocated towards the VA Caregiver Program, including the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC). This represents a more than 40 percent increase from what had been requested by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and more than $100 million more than what had been appropriated in FY 2017. Congress and members of the veteran community were concerned that the VA’s request was an inadequate reflection of the program’s true needs, and we are pleased that Congress took action.
The PCAFC ensures that veteran caregivers have a necessary lifeline as they balance work, family, and caregiving obligations, which are known to take a drastic toll on their health and financial wellbeing. We would like to especially thank members of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, and particularly Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), who was a driving force behind this increase, for their continued support for caregivers.
While the omnibus legislation did not go far enough by expanding the PCAFC to pre-9/11 caregivers, something we encourage Congress to address before the end of the year, we are pleased to see that the current program will continue unabated, welcome news to all of us who know all too well that a well-supported caregiver is the single most important factor in a wounded warrior’s recovery.