Congressman Jim Langevin Partners with Senators Murray and Collins to Expand Caregiver Services to Veterans of All Eras

Mar 9, 2017 Issues: Disabilities, Health Care, Veterans

Today, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, and co-founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus, joined Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) to reintroduce bipartisan legislation in both the House and the Senate that would expand a successful program for those who care for wounded, ill, or injured veterans. The Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act would open the program to veterans of all eras, making resources available to more of the family members and other loved ones who have taken on a caregiver role for veterans.

A RAND study commissioned by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, titled “Hidden Heroes: America’s Military Caregivers,” demonstrated that caregivers -- often a spouse, parent, child, or even a close friend -- sacrifice their own physical, emotional, and financial well-being in order to provide care to servicemembers and veterans that can improve quality of life and result in faster and improved rehabilitation and recovery. The legislation being reintroduced today recognizes that sacrifice and offers support services.

“Each day we honor the distinguished members of our Armed Forces, past and present, who serve our country with unmatched dedication and valor. These men and women make immeasurable sacrifices in defense of our nation – but so too do their families and loved ones who care for them upon their return,” Congressman Langevin said. “I’m pleased that among the many important provisions included in this bill, caregivers will gain access to crucial respite services and supports, a provision I have championed for many years and believe is key to ensuring the health and well-being of those who care for our military heroes.”

“Even though military caregivers don’t wear uniforms or go overseas, they still serve our country – and they need to know their country is there to support them when they put their own lives on hold to care for a loved one who served,” said Senator Murray. “This bill is an important step in ensuring caregivers and veterans of all eras can access this critical program, allowing veterans stay with their loves ones and out of hospitals and nursing homes.”

“Our nation’s military caregivers shoulder the everyday responsibilities of providing care to those who suffered the emotional and physical tolls of war. These dedicated individuals make many sacrifices to care for their loved ones, and they deserve our support,” Senator Collins said. “That is why I am pleased to be joining my colleagues in introducing this bill, which will expand access to services for caregivers and help ensure they have the resource they need to care for our veterans.”

Among other things, the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act would:

  • Make veterans of all eras eligible for caregiver support services. Currently, only post-9/11 veterans are eligible.
  • Make the program more inclusive of mental health injuries.
  • Reauthorize the Lifespan Respite Care Act and expand essential respite options for caregivers.
  • Give veterans the opportunity to transfer GI Bill benefits to a dependent, to help unemployed or underemployed spouses of injured veterans prepare to become the primary income for the family.
  • Make caregivers who work in the federal government eligible for flexible work schedules.
  • Provide assistance with childcare, financial advice and legal counseling, which are all top, and currently unmet, needs.

See a one-pager on the bill here.

Cosponsoring the House bill are Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Anthony Brown (D-MD), Julia Brownley (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Michelle Lujan Grisham(D-NM), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Darren Soto (D-FL), Mark Takano (D-CA), Timothy Walz (D-MN) and Don Young (R-AK).

Cosponsoring the Senate bill are Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Richard Durbin (D-IL ), Al Franken (D-MN), Angus King (I-ME), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Mark Warner (D-VA).