In July the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) sent out the first stipend payments to nearly 100 family caregivers of veterans, including men with prostate cancer. To qualify for the benefits the caregivers first had to complete a training program, “Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers”.

Qualified family caregivers receive an average $1,600 in monthly stipend payments. The amount of the stipend is based on the condition of the veteran and the amount of care they require, as well as the geographic location where the veteran resides.

Since May 9, nearly 1,250 caregivers of veterans have applied for the program. A comprehensive training curriculum, developed by Easter Seals in collaboration with VA clinical experts, is required and is being well received by caregivers. Eligible family caregivers can also access mental health services and are provided health care insurance, if they are not already entitled to care or services under a health plan.

Veterans may review the criteria for eligibility and download the family caregiver program application (VA CG 10-10) at Caregiver Support Coordinators are stationed at every VA medical center to assist with coordinating the training or assist Caregivers in locating available services.

Joel T Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.