We’ve talked about Veteran and spousal benefits in many of our previous blogs, but have never really addressed Veteran caregivers. So I wanted to use this blog as an opportunity to discuss several programs that the VA has for family caregivers of Veterans. These programs can be very useful for Veteran caregivers and can also provide financial support in some situations.
Veteran Caregiver Support Programs
There are two programs that offer support for Veteran caregivers, the PGCSS and the PCAFC. Both include many of the same services, but there are some key differences between each of these programs that we’ll list below. The PCGSS is a more general program and the PCAFC is for Veterans who are 70% disabled or more.
Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS)
This general Veteran caregiver support program provides peer support, mentoring, skills training, coaching, telephone support, online programs, and referrals to outside sources for the caregivers. This program helps caregivers who are providing assistance with activities of daily living. Those activities include eating, preparing meals, personal hygiene, transportation, financial management, and medication management.
Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Caregivers (PCAFC)
The comprehensive Veteran caregiver support program is more robust than the general support program. This program offers enhanced clinical support and services for Veterans who have a serious injury or illness and require in-person personal care services. That’s one of the primary differences between the general and comprehensive programs — the condition of the Veteran needing care.
Other distinguishing features of the comprehensive Veteran caregiver support program are listed below:
1. The Veteran must be enrolled in CHAMPVA. This is the health insurance program administered by the VA. If the Veteran doesn’t have his or her own insurance, they must have CHAMPVA for the caregiver to be enrolled in the comprehensive caregiver support program.
2. The Veteran caregiver receives a stipend. The annual stipend is $34,069 or $2,839 per month in large cities and metropolitan areas. For more rural areas, the base stipend is $2,315 a month. Recall that the Veteran must be rated as 70% disabled or more for the caregiver to qualify for the comprehensive program and thus the stipend.
3. Beneficiary travel reimbursements may apply. If the Veteran caregiver has to travel with the Veteran, they could be compensated for those travel expenses.
Other Veteran Caregiver Services
The services listed below are included in both the general and comprehensive Veteran caregiver programs.
This is a skills training program that provides information and steps to any caregivers dealing with Veteran suicide. Suicide among Veterans is a tragic thing and it happens every couple of minutes in this country. This program is geared towards reducing the suicide rate among Veterans who have experienced traumatic events during their service.
To give you an example, we met a Veteran a few weeks ago that had served in the War in Iraq. He came upon the Highway of Death and experienced all the death and destruction that was left there. The Highway of Death is a road that Iraqi soldiers were using to flee Kuwait, but US forces trapped them on both sides and annihilated them all. This Veteran has frequent nightmares of that devastation, and we were glad that we could get him some help.
Building Better Caregivers
This is an online resource that provides a 6-week support program for Veteran caregivers. This program specifically assists caregivers of Veterans who are dealing with dementia, memory problems, PTSD, or other mental disorders as a result of their service.
Annie Caregiver Text Program
This is an automated texting service that sends messages to Veteran caregivers asking them how they’re doing and if they need anything. This service works well to keep morale high among caregivers who are dealing with stressful situations.
This is an 800 number that Veterans caregivers can call. It allows them to speak to an individual who will walk them through any issues they are having with the Veteran for whom they are caring.
Group Support Coaching
This is a virtual service conducted through Zoom meetings or a similar type of virtual meeting platform. It allows Veteran caregivers to work through their issues in a group setting so that they can provide better care for their Veteran.
This stands for Caregivers Finding Important Resources and Support. It’s an evidence-based skills training program for caregivers of Veterans with a wide range of diagnoses.
This is one of the most important ones in my opinion. Caregivers can easily become exhausted and overwhelmed, and they need a break sometimes. The respite care program pays for care when a Veteran caregiver needs to run errands or take a short vacation. Did you know that 60% of caregivers die before the person for whom they’re caring. This is due to the stressful nature of being a caregiver and the respite program helps to ensure that Veteran caregivers maintain a healthy mental state.
Contact Us So We Can Help!
To recap, there are two primary caregiver programs which include a wide variety of services for Veteran caregivers. The general program (PGCSS) is more basic, while the comprehensive program (PCAFC) is for caregivers of Veterans with severe illnesses or disabilities.
If you are a Veteran or Veteran caregiver and need assistance dealing with the VA, please complete this form or give us a call at (229) 226-8183. You can also send us an email to [email protected] We’re here for our Veterans (and their caregivers) and we’re very thankful for their service.
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