(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee released the following statement after the White House and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that they would ease restrictions that had been added to a bill passed by Congress that would provide financial and health care support to family members caring for severely wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The change will allow more caregivers of more veterans to be eligible for the long-overdue benefit.
“This is an important turnaround for family members of severely wounded veterans who have dropped everything to care for their loved ones. The Administration realized their mistake in limiting and delaying this benefit and is taking steps to fix it, and to fix it quickly. In particular, the President has shown real leadership on this issue by listening to our concerns and ensuring the VA made this right.
“Going forward, I will monitor how the VA implements this program, paying particular attention to how caregivers of veterans with the invisible wounds of war are considered for this benefit. But the bottom line is that because we held them accountable, the VA will make a larger investment, will support more caregivers, and will ensure that health care providers, not bureaucrats make decisions about who is eligible.
“This law was passed to help support the thousands of family members of veterans who have left behind careers, lives, and responsibilities to see that their loved one can recover from wounds they suffered defending our country. It’s a cost of war that for too long has gone unaccounted for and one we can no longer ignore.”
As Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Murray has led congressional efforts to restore the criteria to the intent of Congress when the bill was passed last year. In fact, since the criteria limiting eligibility for certain caregivers was announced by the VA in early February of this year Senator Murray has taken numerous steps to fight the decision including: