By Guest Blogger Garry J. Augustine, Executive Director, DAV
Last month’s special report in the Washington Post highlighted the challenges and opportunities family caregivers face in caring for their loved ones. It included a short but compelling look at the experiences of two parents caring for a veteran severely injured during combat operations in Afghanistan.
The devastating types of injuries that thousands of veterans endure are, in many cases, so severe that family members put their lives on hold and face financial and emotional hardships in order to help their wounded sons, daughters, husbands and wives. Family caregivers provide crucial support to help veterans achieve meaningful and active lives, often at the expense of their own education, job and health.
Five years ago, DAV played an instrumental role in developing the legislation requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a comprehensive caregiver support program for family caregivers of severely injured veterans. Unfortunately, when lawmakers finally passed the legislation, it limited these benefits only to caregivers of veterans injured during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; caregivers of veterans from Vietnam, Korea, World War II and other eras were not eligible. DAV believes that family caregivers of all severely ill and injured veterans — regardless of when they served —should be eligible for comprehensive caregiver support.