Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Support Our Military Caregivers Act unopposed by voice vote. This legislation authored by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) would reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Family Caregiver Program to help better support family members caring for seriously wounded veterans. Below is a transcript of Congresswoman Stefanik’s remarks urging passage on the House floor, or for video click here.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today regarding H.R. 3989, the Support Our Military Caregivers Act.
After working with a constituent of mine who was having trouble with the bureaucratic Military Caregiver system at the VA, I was proud to introduce this legislation last November.
Military caregivers are loved ones who selflessly care for our nation’s heroes behind the scenes to enhance their everyday lives.
Thankfully, the Family Caregiver Program, implemented in 2011, was designed to ensure caregivers were not forgotten.
My bill would guarantee that those who dedicate their lives as caregivers receive the support they so desperately need and they so desperately deserve.
My district has the largest veteran population of any district in New York State – this has provided me with a greater understanding of the selfless sacrifice our veterans and their families provide to our community and our nation.
Over the last 15 years of war, our servicemembers have served bravely and their families have sacrificed an immeasurable amount, so it is vital that we ensure they receive the best possible care available.
Unfortunately, the VA has had a difficult time managing the high demand of Family Caregiver enrollees, which is much larger than originally accounted for.
VA medical centers lack sufficient caregiver support coordinators and the necessary clinical staff to carry out medical assessments for eligibility.
Application deadlines are not being met by their own internal standards and the staff is still shorthanded.
This bill would ensure that military caregivers have access to an objective third party to conduct clinical reviews in the event of an appeal.
It also ensures that the process is transparent so that our veterans and caregivers are never left with an unanswered question.
Military caregivers are truly silent heroes in our communities and deserve the respect and benefits proportionate to their significant contributions.
Mr. Speaker, I am truly humbled to represent the veterans in my district and will continue to work to improve their lives.
I want to thank Chairman Benishek of the Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee for working with me on this legislation, as well as Chairman Miller and Ranking Member Brown for their leadership and bipartisan support of this bill.
I urge all of my colleagues to support this important bill to improve the lives of our veterans and their caregivers.
I yield back.