Today’s opinion column by wounded warrior caregiver and USA Today contributor Ms. Sarah Verardo yanks the cover away from a national tragedy that the Trump Administration is working to fix.
The focus of her essay is those veterans – and their caregivers – who are deemed eligible for VA benefits. It does not extend to the tens of thousands of veterans who’ve been deemed ineligible for VA services due to “bad paper” discharges.
The following is excerpted from Ms. Verardo’s opinion piece in USA Today:
“Eight years ago, my husband stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. He lost his left leg and much of his left arm, and barely survived. . . .
“As many as 5.5 million caregivers struggle to care for disabled veterans like my husband. These wounded warriors, especially catastrophically disabled, need round-the-clock assistance because they have a hard time completing the tasks associated with daily living — such as going to the bathroom or getting out of bed.
“In our case, my husband needs assistance to complete all his daily tasks, from dressing, to getting cleaned and ready, to planning the day. Every day, I am constantly thinking for two people.
“Catastrophically wounded vets also require lots of medical care. In addition to his surgeries [119 of them], my husband has gone through years of speech, visual, physical and occupational therapy.
. . .
“The Department of Veterans Affairs offers caregivers support for coordinating these services as well as a stipend.
“Caregivers could receive $7,800 to $30,000 in any given year. To calculate caregiver stipends, the VA looks at a typical home health aide’s hourly wage in a veteran’s geographic location, as well as the number of hours of care that veteran needs. The VA caps the hours of care at 40 per week.
“That’s almost insulting. I am a caregiver every second of every day. One-fifth of caregivers report caring for their veterans 80 hours a week.
“Fortunately, federal officials are beginning to take action. As part of the recently passed VA MISSION Act, Congress will expand caregiver support to all veterans — not just those injured after 9/11.“