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April 21st, 2010
Grijalva Votes to Bring Assistance to Families of Veterans, Extend Counseling and Financial Benefits to Caretakers

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today voted along with a majority of the House to pass a major veterans assistance package, including new assistance for families of veterans. The bill is supported by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Wounded Warrior Project and the National Military Family Association.

According to a recent report chaired by former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, about 20 percent of active duty, 15 percent of reserve and 25 percent of retired and separated members have a family member or friend who has been forced to leave a job to care for a veteran full-time.

The bill gives families of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans:

 oTraining and education
 oCounseling and mental health services
 oRespite care of no less than 30 days annually, including 24 hour in-home respite care
 oLodging and subsistence payments when accompanying the veteran on medical care visits
 oHealth care through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
 oA monthly financial stipend based on the amount and degree of personal care services provided, and no less than the monthly amount of a commercial home health care entity.

For families of veterans of any conflict, the bill offers training, counseling, respite care and information on the support services available to caregivers through other public, private, and non-profit agencies. It also expands and improves VA health care services for female veterans, providing up to seven days of care for their newborn children the first time in history and increasing treatment for sexual trauma.

“Veterans deserve the best care and assistance we can give them, and this bill is a necessary step toward making sure they get it,” Grijalva said. “Veterans’ families are often overlooked when it comes time to set policy, and bringing them into the picture is the right and timely thing to do.”

The House vote approves S. 1963, a Senate bill that combined and amended a pair of earlier House bills. In addition to family training and assistance, the final product includes a wide array of improvements for rural veterans, homeless veterans and other groups who served. A full overview is available at Rep. Grijalva’s Web site.

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