Tester, Murray Take VA to Task for Mismanagement of Caregiver Program
VA Inspector General Releases Results of Investigation into VA Caregiver Support Program
(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are taking the VA to task following a new report detailing the Department’s mismanagement of the initiative that provides support to caregivers of seriously injured post-9/11 veterans.
Tester and Murray called for an investigation following news last year that the VA was dropping veterans and their caregivers from the Caregiver Support Program with little or no notice. The VA Inspector General audited the Program, which temporarily halted operations in 2017, to determine whether the VA effectively provides services and support to veterans and their caregivers.
The results of the Inspector General’s investigation, released today, say the VA “failed to effectively run the Family Caregiver Program because it did not establish governance that promoted accountability” for its management. This resulted in a lack of monitoring, long waits and veterans being mistakenly accepted into the Program.
“This report shows a troubling lack of diligence by the VA to monitor the wellbeing of our most injured veterans,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “The VA must immediately take steps to adequately staff and overhaul the way it manages the Caregiver Support Program, which provides a lifeline to so many caregivers. The VA has one year before our bipartisan VA MISSION Act expands the Caregiver Support Program to veterans of all eras. The VA knows what it must do before then: fix it.”
“As a nation we make a promise to have our veterans’ backs when they return home from war, and this report confirms that VA has not been holding up their end of the deal,” said Murray. “The Caregivers Support Program provides vital assistance to the ‘hidden heroes’ across our nation working to help veterans live healthy, independent lives, and I was proud to work with Senator Tester and our colleagues on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee recently to expand and strengthen this important program. Now, it is clear that it is beyond time for VA to begin implementing the report’s recommendations and running the Caregivers program as Congress intended to help meet the critical needs of our veterans—and we will be watching to make sure they do.”
Tester and Murray led the fight in Congress to expand the VA Caregiver Support Program to veterans of all eras. They successfully included in the bipartisan VA MISSION Act their language to expand the program to include veterans who served before September 11, 2001. President Trump signed their bill into law in June.
When the VA solicited veterans and caregivers’ feedback on how to strengthen and improve caregiver support services, the Senators urged the VA not to limit veterans’ eligibility for these services.
While the VA provides essential health care services to disabled and injured veterans, day-to-day care often falls on family caregivers. The VA provides training, health care, and other services to caregivers who often put their own lives on hold to care for their loved ones.