Veteran Caregivers are Being Dropped from Roles by VA

Kristina Derro, Esq.

The Department of Veteran’s Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers is a program used to provide stipends for family caregivers who are forced to stay at home to take care of their veteran family member. Since these veterans have suffered serious injuries, the program is a great way to give the veterans the full-time care they need by “employing” the most qualified individuals for the job, their family members.

The problem is, the VA is beginning to cut veterans and their families from the program from certain VA facilities, despite its assertions to the contrary.

According to the VA, it is not making any cuts to the size or the funding of the caregiver program. Numbers would seem to support its stance as the VA has added a total of 6,300 caregivers since 2014. However, the data can be very confusing and misleading at times.

When you look at the number of caregivers by facility, despite the increase in caregivers, 32 of the 140 VA medical centers have been cutting their programs, including some whose cuts are very drastic.

Although it was not an extreme outlier, Charleston, S.C. had the most dramatic cuts going from 197 caregivers in 2014 to just 11 in February of 2017 – a 94 percent reduction. Charleston VA’s reasoning for the cuts were that some veterans improved while others probably should never have qualified in the first place.

With these cuts, veterans with serious injuries or disabilities around the United States are having their caretaker stipends taken away. Although many of these veterans still have their disability ratings, some veterans have considered the cuts a “slap in the face” to the caregivers as they no longer receive the recognition they deserve.