Local News

VA stops revocations of veteran caregiver benefits

Posted April 19
Updated April 21

— 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."

3 Comments

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  • Matt Smithe Apr 19, 3:17 p.m.
    user avatar

    Wow, this article is terrible even by the low journalistic standards of WRAL. The real story is that numerous regional VA's were stopping caregiver benefits. This was likely against regulation and procedure. The VA Secretary halted all rescinding of caregiver benefits until an investigation had been completed. New benefits claims will continue to be processed.

    As Larry Price stated "So it's a good thing; the title doesn't reflect that at all." It only took me a few minutes to find several real news sources with actual reporters who were able to clearly articulate the issue.

  • Larry Price Apr 19, 3:11 p.m.
    user avatar

    Gilbert, I think you had the article correct (with suspension of revocation); it's the title that's the problem. Go read 'http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/va-caregiver-program-review-stipends-cancelled' and see if your article matches up with that one.

  • Larry Price Apr 19, 2:43 p.m.
    user avatar

    Is the title of this article correct? As I read it, the VA is moving to prevent (or suspend) the revocation of these benefits (which have been occurring since 2014). So it's a good thing; the title doesn't reflect that at all.