Local News

Secretary of Veterans Affairs suspects veteran caregiver benefits

Posted April 19

— After serving 13 years as a combat medic in the Navy, Jim Graham's life changed forever in 2006. A blast from a mortar in Iraq killed his best friend and wounded him.

His wife, Alishia, takes care of him and their daughter in their Jacksonville home because he several combat related injuries.

"One of which is for the loss of use of his right arm because it doesn't work," she said. "He took scrap metal to his right shoulder, which killed the nerves in his right arm."

The former sailor was medically retired after being diagnosed with PTSD and a traumatic brain injury. His wife qualified to become his VA caregiver. She's been receiving a stipend of about $1900 a month since the program began in 2011.

"For us mostly it was things that I would want to do," she said. "Or if you I would want to pay somebody to come sit at my house so that I could do go something."

Graham is not alone. According the U-S Department of Veterans Affairs, the Fayetteville VA has taken away benefits from more than 300 caregivers since May of 2014.

The Fayetteville VA used to have seven caregiver coordinators. Now they only have two. Earlier this week, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs suspended the revocations of caregiver benefits initiated by VA medical centers across the country.

The suspension has done little to help caregivers like Alishia Graham who has already been cut from the program.

She has filed an appealed and is waiting to see if her benefit will be reinstated.

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