Caring for a wounded Veteran can be demanding physically and psychologically, so it’s important that you have access to the resources and support you need. Each year, May is recognized as Month of the Military Caregiver. If you are in need of extra encouragement or services to help you or someone you love, here are 4 programs that support military caregivers:
1. VA Caregiver Support Program
The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Caregiver Support Program (CSP) consists of two programs that support military caregivers: the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) and the Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS).
The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC)
The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) provides a wide range of supportive services and resources to family caregivers of Veterans.
Caregivers can receive:
- Education and training
- Mental health services and counseling
- Travel, lodging, and financial assistance when traveling with the Veteran to receive care
- A monthly VA stipend
- Access to healthcare benefits through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) if they don’t already qualify for another healthcare plan
- Financial planning and legal services
- At least 30 days of respite care per year
Eligibility requirements for the family caregiver:
You must be at least 18 years old, and at least 1 of these conditions must be true for you:
- You’re a spouse, son, daughter, parent, stepfamily member, or extended family member of the Veteran, or
- You live full time with the Veteran, or you’re willing to live full time with the Veteran if you’re designated as a family caregiver
Eligible Veterans are permitted to select one primary caregiver and up to two secondary caregivers who can receive benefits through this program.
Eligibility requirements for the Veteran:
All of these must be true for the Veteran for which you’re caring:
- The Veteran has a VA disability rating (individual or combined) of 70% or higher, and
- The Veteran was discharged from the U.S. military or has a date of medical discharge, and
- The Veteran needs at least 6 months of continuous, in-person personal care services
If the Veteran isn’t yet enrolled in VA healthcare, or is on active duty and undergoing a medical discharge, they’ll first need to apply for VA healthcare benefits (VA Form 10-10EZ).
How to Apply for PCAFC
You and the Veteran will need to apply together and participate in an application process to determine if you’re eligible for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. Currently, you can apply online, by mail, or in person by bringing your completed VA Form 10-10CG to your local VA medical center’s Caregiver Support Coordinator. For more information, call the Caregiver Support Line toll free at 1-855-260-3274.
The Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS)
The Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS) is another part of the larger VA Caregiver Support Program. PGCSS provides peer support mentoring, skills training, coaching, telephone support, online programs, and referrals to available resources to caregivers of Veterans.
Eligibility Requirements for the Family Caregiver:
- A General Caregiver is a person who provides personal care services to a Veteran enrolled in VA healthcare who:
- Needs assistance with one or more activities of daily living, or
- Needs supervision or protection based on symptoms or residuals of neurological care or other impairment or injury.
How to Apply for PGCSS:
There is no formal application required to enroll in PGCSS. To enroll, complete the following steps:
- Reach out to the facility CSP Team/Caregiver Support Coordinator or request a referral from the Veteran’s provider.
- Complete an intake with the facility CSP Team/Caregiver Support Coordinator. The Veteran will need to agree to receive care from you as their caregiver, as you will be listed in their healthcare record.
- Enroll and begin to utilize the supports and services offered.
If you are just getting started with VA, calling the Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274 is a great first step to take to learn more about the support that is available to you.
2. Military and Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN)
The American Red Cross Military and Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN) offers community-based resources for caregivers of all era, all relations, across all locations, including:
How to Join Their Network:
You can apply to join the Military and Veteran Caregiver Network online and a facilitator will contact you to complete verification of your role as a military caregiver.
3. Military OneSource Caregiver Support Services
Caregiver Support Services offered by Military OneSource includes several resources that address the needs of caregivers and their families:
- Assistance navigating services for special needs, elder care, wounded warrior care, and more.
- Free financial counseling
- Health and wellness coaches
- Emotional support through non-medical counseling
- Peer support networks
How to Access Caregiver Support Services:
You can access Caregiver Support Services by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647.
4. Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) Family Support
The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) Family Support program connects special needs caregivers with the resources, expert consultation, education and community support they need so that they can be their family’s best advocate. EFMP Family Support services include:
- Face-to-face meetings with EFMP Family Support experts on your installation
- Virtual or phone special needs consultations through Military OneSource
- Online information and resources on Military OneSource
- A digital tool — EFMP & Me — to help families directly access resources tailored to their needs
- The Office of Special Needs EFMP podcast series so you can hear from subject matter experts on the go
How to Find Your Local EFMP Family Support Office:
You can search for EFMP Family Support services near you on Military OneSource.
Other Programs That Support Military Caregivers
- Blue Star Families’ Caregivers Empowering Caregivers (CEC) workshops give attendees the time and space to focus on themselves and establish bonds with fellow military caregivers.
- The Caregiver Action Network (CAN) provides education, peer support, and resources to family caregivers across the country free of charge.
- Easterseals offers a variety of programs and resources to provide support and care for caregivers, including respite care, downloadable resources, and financial guidance.
- Hidden Heroes is a major campaign of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and brings attention to the untold stories of military caregivers and seeks solutions for the tremendous challenges and long-term needs they face. Their national registry connects military caregivers to helpful resources and support.
- The Independence Fund established the Caregiver Program to provide caregivers of all eras with small group retreats inclusive of peer-to-peer support, respite, as well as restorative and pampering services.
- The Rosalynn Carter Institute partnered with Wounded Warrior ProjectⓇ to launch Operation Caregiver Support (OCS), a virtual support group for post-9/11 military caregivers. Through this program, caregivers are empowered to unlock new strategies for managing stress, creating a care team, encouraging each other to care for themselves, and much more.
- Semper Fi and America’s Fund established the Service Member and Family Support Program to provide direct financial assistance and vital programming for combat wounded, critically ill, and catastrophically injured servicemembers and military families during hospitalization and recovery.
- The Unspoken Heroes Program from Operation Showers of Appreciation is available to Veterans, Veteran Caregivers, Gold Star Families and Blue Star Moms. They assist with appreciation banquets, school supplies, care packages, gift cards, and gift baskets.
- Wounded Warriors Family Support’s (WWFS) Respite Care Program provides caregivers and families of wounded war Veterans with meals, housekeeping, medical travel grants, and In-Home Care services.
- The Wounded Warrior Project’s Warrior Care Network is a comprehensive program that supports family members in the treatment of Veterans and servicemembers living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), military sexual trauma (MST), and other related conditions.