Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is considering new restrictions to a program that provides monthly stipends and other assistance to family caregivers of post-9/11 veterans.
Testifying before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on Tuesday, Shulkin said he wanted to limit eligibility for the program to the most severely injured and ill veterans in order to expand benefits to veterans of all eras without inflating costs.
As is, the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers provides monthly stipends, medical training and access to other services, such as mental health counseling, to family members of veterans injured after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Some advocates have fought for years for an extension of caregiver benefits to veterans injured before 9/11, describing it as an unfair disparity.
Representatives from the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Disabled American Veterans – groups that have long-fought for an expansion of caregiver support – said Tuesday that they supported the restrictions that Shulkin wants to carry out, as long as they’d lead to more pre-9/11 veterans receiving care.
Sarah Dean, with Paralyzed Veterans of America, told lawmakers PVA would also support the eligibility changes but said, "It won’t be the end of the conversation."
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