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Obama signs veteran caregiver relief act

Obama signs veteran caregiver relief act
White House

With an American Legion official standing behind him May 5, President Barack Obama signed into law the long-awaited Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act. As its name implies, the act calls for the government to provide health benefits, training, respite care and, in some cases, monetary stipends for individuals who provide at-home care for severely ill and disabled veterans.

"This is a big step in the right direction," National Commander Clarence Hill said. "Finally, the sacrifices made by the families and caregivers of our wounded warriors are being recognized and, more importantly, their needs are beginning to be met."

Many of The American Legion's top legislative priorities have been included in the congressionally popular Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act, including improvements for women's services at VA health-care facilities, better support for caregivers of disabled veterans, expanded mental-health services and more funding to help reduce homelessness among veterans.

As it stands, the benefits of the new act apply primarily, though not exclusively, to veterans and caregivers of veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) - the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. According to a House Veterans Affairs Committee press release, the act does require the Department of Veterans Affairs "...to provide hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care for certain Vietnam-era veterans exposed to herbicide, and Gulf-War era veterans who have insufficient medical evidence to establish a service-connected disability," but contains little else specific to veterans of the pre-9/11 era other than to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to "...submit a one-time report on the feasibility and advisability of expanding the program to cover veterans who have a serious injury incurred or aggravated before September 11, 2001."

"The American Legion has urged and will continue to press congressional leaders to expand this very important but incomplete legislation to benefit all seriously injured and ill veterans and their caregivers," Hill said. "Our nation must not forget them."

The estimated cost of implementing all current provisions of the act is $1.7 billion over the next five years. Observers say future funding will be the biggest obstacle to expansion of its benefits.

Robert Madden, assistant director for the Legion's Economic Division, attended the signing. To view the signing, click here.

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swaugh

May 10, 2010 - 2:15am

My wife has cared for me because I can be left alone. I had a TBI in Nov.,1991 while on active duty, right after I returned from Desert Storm. It's a full time job for her which leaves no time to work a job. I'm luckey because she is a retired nurse. I ave had 3 strokes and many other problems. Please support eailer veterans that went to war.

Kathy Harkins

May 9, 2010 - 5:47am

THANK YOU Mr Obama, This is a HUG HELP, I am a care giver for my husband, who has Parkinson's along with PTSD, I am VERY HAPPY that you passed this BILL, not just for me but for other Vet's who need to have care from a family member or outside. I am Greatful.

Elizabeth

May 7, 2010 - 8:22am

I am so very glad.This means when my husband looses his eye sight, I could stay home and not worry of having to work 32 hours.He is a diabetic with severe eye problems (macular degeration,detatched retinas,cataracs,glaucoma) we also live 38 to the V.A. Hospital.

Stephen L. Chang

May 7, 2010 - 12:27am

I am so pleased the president and Congress were able to put into law so many of the issues we in The American Legion have been striving to get passed. This needs to be extended to families of veterans from earlier wars, too, because it is more than an OIF/OEF issue.

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