Landmark Veteran Caregiver Bill Passes House
Supports Veteran Caregivers, Returning Troops and Families
Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) this week helped pass a landmark bill to help millions of veterans and their caregivers. The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act enhances female veterans’ benefits, improves military mental health services and provides unprecedented new benefits to veteran caregivers including training, counseling, health care and financial assistance.Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) this week helped pass a landmark bill to help millions of veterans and their caregivers. The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act enhances female veterans’ benefits, improves military mental health services and provides unprecedented new benefits to veteran caregivers including training, counseling, health care and financial assistance.
"This landmark legislation stands by our troops and supports those caregivers who continue to stand with them," said Congressman Cuellar. "Everyday, millions of military families support men and women in uniform, making sacrifices for the sake of our country. These caregiver benefits are vitally needed and well-deserved."
On Wednesday, the House passed legislation that will provide support services to family and other caregivers of all veterans, including stipends for caregivers living with severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. If signed into law by the President, this legislation would be a landmark investment in veteran caregiver assistance and support.
The measure creates two distinct caregiver programs within the Department of Veteran Affairs, one for all caregivers and one specifically designed for those supporting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Caregivers are defined as family members of veterans or non-family members who live with a veteran. Training, education, counseling, mental health services, lodging, financial assistance and subsistence payments for accompanying veterans on medical care visits will be provided to qualifying caregivers under this bill.
In addition, caregivers would be provided health care services through the Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA) of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"This bill addresses the unique needs of today’s veterans and their families," said Congressman Cuellar. "With this legislation, we uphold a promise to our troops and their support systems at home. This is commonsense legislation to help our brave men and women return home from overseas and this will continue to support those millions of veterans who have already served our great nation."
To address the unique needs of the growing number of returning women soldiers, the bill will improve health care services for the nation’s 1.8 million female veterans and for the first time provide up to seven days of post-delivery health care to a newborn of a female veteran.
This legislation will also improve access to care for veterans in rural areas by improving VA transportation services to veterans living in remote regions. Servicemen and women will also have access to counseling and other mental health centers, including members of the National Guard and Reserves who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, but are no longer on active duty.
The bill also supports the nation’s veterans by prohibiting the VA from collecting copayments from veterans who are catastrophically disabled. A broad coalition of veterans groups including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS, Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Wounded Warriors Project and the National Military Family Association support the bill’s passage.
Congressman Henry Cuellar is a member of the U.S. House Homeland Security, Agriculture, and Government Oversight & Reform Committees in the 111th Congress. Accessibility to constituents, education, health care, economic development, and national security are his priorities. Congressman Cuellar is also a Senior Whip and member of the Blue Dog Coalition