Sen. Durbin discusses caregiver program at Marion VFW

Program helps caregivers of veterans

MARION, IL (KFVS) - U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) spoke with family caregivers and veterans at the Marion VFW on Tuesday, June 30.

Sen. Durbin talked about the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Caregiver Program.

The program provides home health training, peer support, and a financial stipend to caregivers of severely injured veterans.

VA officials say it can be a medical or a mental health diagnosis.

One veteran, who suffers from PTSD, said he's happy that there are programs like these out there, because he said his disorder isn't one that just affects him.

“I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2010," Army veteran Dan McNeill said.  "I was trying to deal with everything with that and also my family too because it's not just me dealing with it, it's my family too.”

According to the press release, more than 21,000 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan participate in the program, including 425 in Illinois.

The Caregiver Program was created by a Durbin-authored provision in the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009, which was enacted in 2010.

The VA began providing caregiver support in 2011 and has been a success for veterans and their families.

The VA spends an average of $332,000 per veteran per year in VA nursing homes, an average of $88,000 per veteran per year in community nursing homes, and about $45,000 a year in per diem payments to veterans in State Veterans Homes.

Through the Family Caregiver Program, the VA cost per veteran per year is about $36,000. This includes the stipend, which averages between $600 and $2,250 a month, based on the level of care and the geographic location, and services provided to the caregiver.

For more information about this program, you can click here.

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