Home Local News Brown pushes bill to expand support for vet caregivers

Brown pushes bill to expand support for vet caregivers

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U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) touted bipartisan legislation that would expand support for veterans’ caregivers during a conference call with Ohio media Wednesday afternoon.

The Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act would make resources like child care, financial assistance and legal counseling available to eligible family members or loved ones who care for veterans. The bill also would allow veterans who participate in the program to transfer their GI educational benefits to dependents who act as caregivers.

“Whether they served in recent conflicts or sacrificed for us in earlier eras, all of our veterans and the loved ones who care for them deserve our support,” Brown said. “The bill would make caregivers for all veterans, regardless of when they served, eligible for support services. These men and women may not wear a uniform, but they sacrifice for our nation all the same.”

Post-9/11 veterans and their caregivers have been eligible for the services for about six years.

“As a member of Congress, and I was there when we first enacted the legislation, we were seeing the kinds of illness brought on by 9/11,” Brown said. “When Congress passed it, our focus was there and it was an oversight not to include others.”

There are about 1,700 Wyandot County veterans, and the majority are pre-9/11.

“I see more of the older veterans coming in (to the local veterans services office) and it would be great, especially because of our Vietnam veterans and the diseases from Agent Orange,” Wyandot County Veterans Service Officer Theresa Miller said.

Currently, post-9/11 veterans who have sustained serious mental or physical injuries and require assistance carrying out their daily living activities are eligible for the VA caregiver program. The bill would phase in new veterans to the caregiver program based on need to maintain quality service for veterans and their caregivers.

The proposed legislation would expand child care and respite services and provide stipends to offset costs associated with child care, financial advice, and legal counseling; coordinate caregiver policies and services among Veterans Affairs departments; and include a broader range of injuries eligible for the caregiver program, including a greater emphasis on mental health injuries.

“I had somebody contact me whose husband is a Vietnam veteran and she’s at home trying to take care of him, but they weren’t eligible,” Miller said. “I’m for it, because the veteran population is aging. I see a lot of people going into nursing homes, people that if they might have had more support services available to them may have been able to stay in their own homes.”

Brown did not have figures for how many additional veterans would be eligible if the bill became law.

Dannielle Sedman, a Wilmington resident who helps care for her Vietnam veteran father who has dementia, joined Brown on the conference call.

Sedam said, “Allowing all veterans and their families to be a part of the caregiver program will give families like mine the opportunity to show how much we care and give us a chance to give them back something when they gave so much.”

By CHANDA NEELY
City editor

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