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VA Secretary Approves Recommendations from Veterans’ Families, Caregivers and Survivors Advisory Committee Chaired by Senator Elizabeth Dole

VA Secretary Approves Recommendations from Veterans’ Families, Caregivers and Survivors Advisory Committee Chaired by Senator Elizabeth Dole

Since October 2017, the Veterans’ Families, Caregivers and Survivors Advisory Committee chaired by Senator Elizabeth Dole has been working to advise the VA Secretary on matters related to veterans’ families, caregivers, and survivors across all generations, relationships, and veteran status. The committee has been laser-focused on gaining a better understanding of the use of VA care and benefits services, and factors that influence access, quality, and accountability for those services. The committee has engaged veteran family members, research experts, and family service providers as a way to better understand their needs and identify ways VA can continue to support them in the best possible way. 

Below are the most recent committee recommendations that have been approved by the VA Secretary in January 2021. 

  1. VA should develop and distribute a resource guide, toolkit, and instructional program to assist young(er) survivors when coping with the loss of their service member or veteran.
  2. VA should expand mental health support to families, caregivers and survivors to include access to telehealth services, substance use disorder treatments, intimate partner violence assistance programs and crisis interventions in response to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
  3. VA should create proactive care coordination with VA providers for all medical care provided by non-VA providers to include the caregiver. All VA care plans include information on, and referral to, non-VA resources appropriate to address and support the whole health needs of the veteran and the involved family and caregivers with special attention to those transitioning or at risk for suicide.
  4. That VA (a) work with Congress to increase the funding for the Veteran Directed Care so that it can be offered at all VA Medical Centers, (b) collect data/research to understand the usage of respite services by Veterans and their caregivers to better understand how caregivers access respite and any barriers they may face while using it and (c) launch a public awareness campaign to educate caregivers and Veterans on the value of respite care and the array of services offered and available through VA. 

The members of the Federal Advisory Committee look forward to continued engagement with our partners at the U.S. Department of Veterans in implementing these recommendations this year. With the new Administration beginning this week, we look forward to celebrating a renewed commitment to the needs of Families, Caregivers, and Survivors with the incoming leadership.