For years, Senator Murray has led the fight in Congress to expand the popular VA Caregiver Support Program to veterans of all eras; the expansion passed in Congresstoday is derived from her bill, The Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act
VA Caregiver Support Program provides resources and support to those who put their own lives on hold to care for a veteran with service-connected injuries
A RAND study shows caregivers spend as much as 40 hours a week providing care, often sacrificing their own emotional and physical health and financial well-being to provide care to a veteran
Senator Murray: “The more veterans and their caregivers who are eligible for support, the closer we are to fulfilling our promise to care for those who’ve sacrificed so much on our behalf”
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the daughter of a World War II veteran, cheered the passage of the VA MISSION Act, which, among other things, includes a provision she wrote that will finally make veterans of all eras eligible for the Department of Veterans Affairs Caregiver Support Program. For years, the program has made resources such as a stipend, counseling, and training available to loved ones who have taken on a caregiver role for a veteran with service-connected injuries or illness, but up to this point, only post-9/11 veterans have been eligible for the popular program. Based on legislationchampioned by Senator Murray, the Caregiver provision included in the VA MISSION Act not only expands the program to include more veterans and their caregivers, it also strengthens it by adding available financial and legal resources. After passing in the Senate 92 to 5, the bill now goes to the president’s desk.
“When a servicemember suffers illness or injury while defending our freedoms, we have a responsibility to be there for them and their families, no matter what. Making sure resources, training, and a support system is available to them is a great way to start,” said Senator Murray. “The more veterans and their caregivers who are eligible for support, the closer we are to fulfilling our promise to care for those who’ve sacrificed so much on our behalf. I look forward to working to ensure this expansion is implemented just as Congress intended—by putting the needs and well-being of veterans first.”
“We celebrate today’s passage of the VA MISSION Act in the Senate as the culmination of a years-long effort to ensure that veteran caregivers have access to the support they need and deserve, regardless of the era in which their veteran served,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “Today’s victory would not have been possible without the stalwart leadership of Senators Murray and Collins, and Representative Langevin, and I thank them for their constant and passionate support of our nation’s hidden heroes.”
A longtime champion for strengthening federal investments in caring for veterans, during her time as Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Senator Murray oversaw the initial implementation of the Caregiver Support Program in 2011, and during the rule-making process, fought back against efforts to curtail eligibility. Given the popularity and success of the program, Senator Murray first introduced legislation in 2014 to expand the program to veterans of all eras, reintroducing the legislation in 2015 and 2017. Senator Murray has alsoconsistently worked to hold senior VA officials accountable for implementing the program in a way that works best for veterans and their caregivers, not the least of which is creating clear, standardized eligibility requirements.
“Today’s Senate approval of the VA MISSION Act includes a critically important extension of VA’s comprehensive caregiver benefits to veterans seriously injured prior to 9/11, providing greater fairness for veterans of all eras,”said DAV National Commander, Army veteran and former caregiver Delphine Metcalf-Foster. “For thousands of World War II, Korean, Vietnam and Gulf War veterans and their family caregivers, enactment of this legislation will finally provide them the recognition and support they have earned and deserve. This historic caregiver expansion would not have come to fruition without the inspired and tireless leadership of Senators Patty Murray and Susan Collins, as well as Congressman Jim Langevin.”
“PVA applauds the passage of the VA MISSION Act, and salutes the tireless work of Senator Murray,” said David Zurfluh, President, Paralyzed Veterans of America. “For eight years, Senator Murray and her staff have steadily advocated for equal treatment of veterans’ caregivers.Today’s achievement is a testament to her persistence. The lives of thousands of paralyzed veterans will be improved because of her good work.”