Friday, September 10, 2010

Caregiver's Bill

Yesterday I did a survey for caregiver's of OIF/OEF vets. It took about 20 minutes and asked questions I expected. However, I often wonder if, statistically speaking, am I truly considered a caregiver. At the AW2 Symposium, I had the opportunity to ask a General that question. He gave me his political answer, which I expected. I just pray that when he is sitting inside those meetings where they are discussing the parameters of the new caregiver's bill, he will remember me and a little bit of our story.

For a long time, we have been frustrated with the fact that my husband does not qualify for much of anything when it comes to the "benefits" related to being injured. I'm not talking about VA benefits here, but other things like TSGLI and some other help from non profit organizations. It seems that since his physical wounds have heeled and he can dress himself, feed himself, shower, transfer, and use the bathroom on his own, we do not qualify for much needed assistance. In my opinion, if he can't be left alone because of his psychiatric injuries, then he needs just as much assistance as the ones who need help doing the tasks of daily living. After applying twice, we did finally qualify for the minimum TSGLI which I think is unfair as well. He can physically do the things they require, but if left alone, he might wander out into the street, in traffic, and not have clue what's going on around him. If he gets triggered, he might run out of the house and take off completely unresponsive to anything around him. The list goes on and on.

So, it will be very interesting to see how this Caregiver's Bill plays out. Will I be considered a full time caregiver for my husband? I've been told by several people who are in positions to have an inside scoop, that we should not have anything to worry about. We should definitely fall into the circle of those who are happy and not left outside looking in. However, we can't believe any of it until we see it. For those who do not qualify, it will be more stress and scrambling in trying to take care of their spouse and families. For many of us, we would give anything to go back to work and contribute to the financial well being of our families. I used to teach middle school before all of this happened and I loved it! There is no way though that I could return to any kind of a job now, let alone a career.

This bill also has more things than just money involved that make me excited. Respite care!! To be able to go out of town for a weekend with a friend and have someone paid to come in and take care of my husband would be amazing. As it stands now, if I want to do ANYTHING, I have to arrange for someone who can watch my kids and their dad. This doesn't make getting out too easy! Even just to be able to go to lunch with a friend or Christmas shopping on my own, and not have to worry about what's going on at home and who is watching who. My kids will not have the added responsibility of taking care of their dad while I run to the store. Maybe, they can just be Kids again to some degree.

The other thing it will cover is training me in taking care of him. Everything I know to do is what I've figured out on my own. You know it is bad when we are in a psychiatrist office and the doctor looks to me as to what to do when he starts having an "episode." An Army psychiatrist doing his med board evaluation even left the room when my husband dove to the floor, took out his table because a fire alarm went off in the building. The doctor actually said to me, "I'll just leave you two alone for a little while." That was that, he walked out and shut his door. I ended up being there for 3 hours trying to get my husband off the floor. I was irrate, but what could I do? So, actually having a professional tell me how to handle these "episodes" would be extremely helpful. Although, I must say, I'm not very hopeful that they really know what to do.

This all important bill is critical for many of America's Heroes and their Families. Please pray that it will apply to the many families like ours that may fall through the cracks, again!

Even Now......Gina


  1. I have never figured out this "caregiver" status either. My husband sounds eerily like yours and I don't have a clue about what this bill is, what's in place now for us, or if we even qualify. Yet, the VA classifies me on his paperwork as caregiver status. When I ask questions about the benefits for caregivers as someone suggested I do like the monthly stipend to offset our losses, no one seems to know anything about it. I am super glad you are talking about this and if you find anything out...please let me know. Hugs to you~

  2. I will definitely keep you posted. My husband has a Federal Recovery Coordinator that is keeping on top of all of the updates for us. He seems to have an "in" as his old boss is in charge of the bill right now. Currently, we do not qualify for any type of stipend or respite care through the VA. However, once the ins and outs of this bill are hammered out we should. The way I understand it, we would qualify for a monthly stipend, training on how to care for our husbands, and no less than 30 days of respite care a year. Considering we get NOTHING now that is a huge improvement. I think the stipend will be based on the amount and type of care the veteran needs and the going rate for that type of care in your home area. The thing that makes me hopeful is that it does specifically include psychiatric illness in the bill. I think there is supposed to be some updates on the progress of it coming out in November. Have a great weekend!!