VA stops revocations of veteran caregiver benefits
Posted April 19
Updated 2:54 p.m. Friday
Fayetteville, N.C. — Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David Shulkin suspended the revocations of caregiver benefits initiated by VA medical centers across the country.
According the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Fayetteville VA Medical Center has taken away benefits from more than 300 caregivers since May 2014.
"The numbers of caregivers on our rolls at the Fayetteville VAMC have declined considerably over the years. That’s undeniable. However, that decline does not indicate any concerted effort to ‘take away benefits.’ Money is not the driving factor," Elizabeth Goolsby, director of the Fayetteville VA Medical Center, said in a statement to WRAL News.
Goolsby said some veterans choose to drop out of the program, while others change caregivers or find that their caregiver can no longer provide the needed level of care. Still others move into residential care facilities, and some are dropped because they don't comply with program regulations, she said.
"Veterans and caregivers may also be removed from the program if the veteran’s condition changes, making him/her no longer clinically eligible," she said. "When veterans and their caregivers are not satisfied with decisions made by the local VA Caregiver Support Program and his/her health care team, they can file an appeal."
Alishia Graham has filed an appeal after the $1,900 she received every month to care for her husband ended.
After serving 13 years as a combat medic in the Navy, Jim Graham was seriously wounded by a mortar blast in Iraq in 2006.
"He took scrap metal to his right shoulder, which killed the nerves in his right arm," Alishia Graham said.
Jim Graham also suffered a traumatic brain injury and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Alishia Graham has been receiving the monthly stipend since 2011 to care for her husband and their daughter in their Jacksonville home.
"For us, mostly, it was things that I would want to do," she said, "or if I would want to pay somebody to come sit at my house, so that I could do something."
"Caregivers are partners in the care of veterans, and VA is dedicated to providing them with the support and services they need," Goolsby said. "We can’t thank caregivers enough for the vital role they play in helping veterans recover from injury and illness."