The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) offers resources to caregivers of veterans, including respite through home and community-based services, two caregiver support programs, a 1-800 support line, and educational videos.
The new Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers is a benefit for eligible veterans who have incurred or aggravated a serious injury in the line of duty on or before May 7, 1975, or on or after September 11, 2001.
Connecting with an accredited Veteran Service Officer can help ease the application process.
Did your spouse or loved one serve in the military? The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) offers resources to caregivers of veterans, including respite through home and community-based services, two caregiver support programs, a 1-800 support line, and educational videos.
Apply for VA Healthcare
The first step to receiving these caregiver support services is to have the veteran enroll in VA Healthcare. Many veterans do not know if they are eligible for VA Healthcare; it is worth finding out! The healthcare application is three pages and veterans can apply in person at a VA Medical Center, on-ine or mail.
Working directly with a VA Healthcare Enrollment and Eligibility Specialist can be extremely helpful, and can ensure all necessary documents are submitted with the application. The enrollment process takes up to one week. Once enrolled, the veteran will need to establish and schedule an appointment with a VA Primary Care Physician at a VA Medical Center. A VA Clinic many be closer to home, and you should ask what is required for the first visit.
To find a VA Healthcare Enrollment & Eligibility Specialist in your area:
- Google your city + VA Medical Center (VMAC)
- Click on Phone Directory
- Find local Enrollment & Eligibility phone number and extension
VA Home & Community Based Services
The VHA Geriatrics and Extended Care (GEC) Home and Community Based Services program can help support both the veteran and caregiver. These services do not require an application, however, the veteran and caregiver need to communicate their needs to their primary care physician or social worker to receive a referral for the service. Many of these services are flexible and are available if the need is there, meaning no limits to the number of visits per year.
Veteran and Caregiver support services include:
- Respite care
- Home telehealth
- Home-based primary care
- Homemaker and home health aides
- Adult day health care centers
- Remote monitoring care
- Skilled home care
- Home hospice care
- Veteran Directed Care Program (This program includes a stipend to the caregiver. An application is required)
Note: some services not available at all VA Medical Centers
Learn more about VA Home and Community Based Services.
VA Caregiver Support Programs
The VA has two caregiver support programs:
- The General Caregiver Support Program, and
- The new Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. This new program expands services to support caregivers for older veterans.
The Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS) provides resources, education, and support to caregivers of veterans. A veteran does not need to have a service-connected condition, for which the caregiver is needed, and may have served during any era. There is no application process for these services; just contact the VA caregiver support team for intake.
(NEW) The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) is for eligible veterans who have incurred or aggravated a serious injury in the line of duty on or before May 7, 1975, or on or after September 11, 2001. The eligibility for this program requires that a veteran be service connected at 70% rating or higher. This means the veteran would have already filed a claim for service-connected disability through the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). If a veteran’s service-connected disability worsens, there is an application to request a rating increase. Connecting the veteran to an accredited Veteran Service Officer can help ease the application process.
For those veterans meeting the criteria, the PCAFC program provides resources, education, support, a financial stipend, and health insurance (if eligible), beneficiary travel (if eligible), mental health services to caregivers of eligible veterans.
The veteran and caregiver will need to apply for this program, which can be done online but it is suggested to work directly with a VA Caregiver Support team member. To find one locally contact the VA Caregiver Support Directory, or call the Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274. (Go local if you can!)
VA Caregiver Support Video Series
Finally, the VHA Office of Rural Health developed a caregiver support video series for those providing caregiving to veterans with Dementia. These are free and available in short segments.
- Series One: “Information and Support for In-Home Dementia Caregivers”
- Series Two: “Managing Dementia Behaviors: ABC’s for Caregivers”
Modules can be found at Caregiver Video Series. If you prefer a DVD, contact the Salt Lake City VHA Office of Rural Health at 801-582-1565 ext. 2770.
These benefits and services are earned and can make a huge long-term impact on access to healthcare, services, and support for their caregivers. We hope you take time to apply!