(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Patty Murray, pointedly questioned Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki over the VA’s decision to limit a benefit for the caregivers of severely injured Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The VA’s decision, which cuts back stipends for those who have left careers behind to care for their injured loved ones, ignores the will of Congress in passing the caregivers law last year.
“I have already discussed the caregivers issue with you, with Jack Lew, with senior staff at the White House, and I have spoken directly with the President,” Senator Murray said at today’s hearing. “VA’s plan was overdue and once submitted it hardly resembled the bill that unanimously cleared this Congress.
“Rather than following the law, the Administration set forth some overly stringent rules -- bureaucratic hurdles that would deny help to caregivers. We are hearing from veterans and caregivers from all across the country who fall outside of this new line in the sand that the VA has drawn or who have been left in limbo – and now don’t know if the benefit they have been advocating for will support them.”
After questioning Shinseki about why the VA is not complying with the law, Murray also pointed out that the VA has only set aside a fraction of the funding authorized for the caregiver program. Secretary Shinseki acknowledged that all of the funding is not being used because of the narrowing eligibility requirements. Secretary Shinseki also acknowledged that the benefit has taken too long to implement.
TO WATCH SENATOR MURRAY QUESTION SECRETARY SHINSEKI VISIT: http://veterans.senate.gov/hearings.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=5ee43015-815c-4f30-a682-7fa0115ebb63
The caregivers question appears at the 77 minute mark.
March 2, 2011