One of my most sacred jobs as your senator is standing up for the men and women who served our country in uniform, and the loved ones who support them. And when it comes to serving our veterans, our work is never done.
I received a letter from Dannielle of Wilmington, whose father served our country in the Navy during the Vietnam War. She wrote to me after her father suffered a stroke last year, and now needs constant care. Dannielle wanted to honor her father’s wishes and care for him at home.
We already have a successful program to help caregivers for critically wounded or ill veterans, but expanded services are only available to caregivers of veterans who served following 9/11. Danielle discovered she wasn’t eligible because her father served at an earlier time.
Whether they served in recent conflicts or sacrificed for us in earlier eras, all of our veterans and the loved ones who care for them deserve our support.
Of course we thank service members and veterans for their service, but many more sacrifice to care for them when their service is done – their families give so much to our country, and often don’t get the support they deserve. All caregivers, and particularly caregivers of those who served in uniform, shoulder incredible responsibilities. They often put their lives on hold, and sacrifice their own health and finances to care for loved ones.
That’s why I’ve joined my colleagues to introduce the bipartisan Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act.
The bill would make caregivers for all veterans, regardless of when they served, eligible for support services, including a monthly stipend, caregiver training through the VA, and help with travel expenses when accompanying the veteran to hospitals and doctors appointments. It would also make improvements to this proven program, so that caregivers for veterans suffering from mental health injuries receive support, and it would provide caregivers with childcare, financial advice, and legal counseling assistance.
These men and women may not wear a uniform, but they sacrifice for our nation all the same.
All of those who serve should be able to live life with dignity that befits their service when they return home. For many veterans, that means staying in their own homes with the support of their loved ones. We owe it to these heroes to support them, and to support the invisible heroes who care for them.
Senator Sherrod Brown represents Ohio in the Senate and is a guest columnist.