Are you a caregiver to a veteran or do you know someone who is?
Family caregivers provide crucial support in caring for America's heroes by allowing them to stay in the homes and communities they defended. But providing care to a veteran can be stressful and financially difficult, too.
A study of veterans' caregivers, conducted by the National Association for Caregivers found that more than 68 percent of responders described their experiences as "highly stressful." And, 47 percent said they had to either leave their jobs or take early retirement to provide care to a loved one.
There are new services and assistance for caregivers -- unpaid relatives or friends of disabled veterans who help these individuals with their activities of daily living.
Additional VA services now are available to seriously injured post-9/11 veterans and their caregivers through a new program of comprehensive care fro family caregivers made possible by the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010.
The services included:
Monthly stipends and travel expenses (including lodging and per diems while accompanying veterans undergoing care
Access to health care insurance
Mental-health services and counseling
Comprehensive VA caregiver training
"There is help, there are benefits and there are answers," said John Javis, director of special projects at the Mental Health Association of Nassau County, which can help caregivers of veterans find assistance. "The men and women whom these caregivers aid served our country and have earned these benefits."
A copy of the VA's Caregiver program application may be downloaded at www.caregiver.va.gov.
If you belong to an organization that would like to have a speaker discuss these issues, contact the Mental Health Association of Nassau County at (516) 489-2322 to schedule a presentation.
For information regarding assistance for caregivers call the VA National Caregivers Support Line at 1-855-260-3274 or call the Mental Health Association of Nassau County (516) 504-HELP.