Monday, November 08, 2010

VA Celebrates National Family Caregiver Month

WASHINGTON (Nov. 8, 2010)- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is
marking National Family Caregiver Month by honoring the service of
family members and friends who have dedicated their lives to caring for
chronically ill, injured, or disabled Veterans.

"Caregivers are the family members and loved ones who take care of the
severely injured Veterans who need assistance on a daily basis," said VA
Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. "These mothers, wives, fathers, husbands and
other loved ones make tremendous sacrifices to be there every day for
the Veterans who served this Nation.  They are our partners in Veteran
health care and they deserve our support."

November is National Family Caregivers Month, and VA medical centers
nationwide will offer locally sponsored events for caregivers.  Because
caregivers often experience stress, burnout, or feel overwhelmed by the
caregiving experience, planned activities will provide useful
information about VA and community resources that offer support and
assistance to caregivers and Veterans.

Caregivers provide a valuable service to Veterans by assisting them
beyond the walls of VA medical facilities with support such as accessing
the health care system, providing emotional and physical support, and
allowing injured Veterans to stay in their homes rather than living
their lives in an institutional setting.

Caregivers help Veterans maintain a better quality of life and gain more
independence.  As the Veteran population ages and continues to increase,
the role of caregivers as partners in supporting Veterans is even more
prevalent. The Veteran population aged 65 and older is expected to
increase from 37.4 percent to 44.8 percent by the year 2020. VA is also
treating a new era of younger, severely injured Servicemembers. Many
Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan will need lifetime care. VA
recognizes the support of their caregivers is vital for these Veterans.

On May 5, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Caregivers and
Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010.  Passed by Congress, this
law will allow VA to care for those who provide supplemental help to
family caregivers of the most severely wounded veterans returning from
Iraq and Afghanistan.  VA has been consulting with Veterans
organizations, as well as individual Veterans and their family members,
to ensure these new programs are implemented to provide the best
possible support for those who have sacrificed so much.

These benefits will add to the wide range of compassionate and practical
programs for Veteran caregivers that are already available from VA:

o        In-Home and Community Based Care:  This includes skilled home
health care, homemaker home health aide services, community adult day
health care and home based primary care.

o        Respite care:  Designed to temporarily relieve the family
caregiver from caring for a chronically ill, injured or disabled Veteran
at home, respite services can include in-home care, a short stay in a VA
community living center or other institutional setting or adult day
health care.

o        Caregiver education and training programs:  VA provides
multiple training opportunities which include pre-discharge care
instruction and specialized caregiver programs such as polytrauma and
traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury/disorders, and blind
rehabilitation.  VA has a caregiver assistance healthy living center Web
page on My HealtheVet,, as well as caregiver
information on the VA's main Web page health site; both Websites include
information on VA and community resources and caregiver health and

o        Family support services:  These support services can be face to
face or on the telephone.  They include family counseling, spiritual and
pastoral care. Polytrauma Centers also offer family leisure and
recreational activities and temporary lodging in Fisher Houses.

o        Other benefits:   VA provides durable medical equipment and
prosthetic and sensory aides to improve function, financial assistance
with home modification to improve access and mobility, and
transportation assistance for some Veterans to and from medical

Caregivers should contact their nearest VA medical center for caregiver
activities in the local area. Facility locators and contact information
can be found at