Battle for benefits: VA caregiver program changes could drop 6,700 disabled vets from benefits


WASHINGTON, DC – Changes to a Veterans Affairs program designed to help provide care for home-bound disabled veterans following a year-long review will be reevaluated after complaints that the changes would cut benefits for thousands of participants.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said top officials will re-evaluate changes to the department’s Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC), a program providing monthly benefits 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 program is set to open to all eligible veterans in October, including veterans who served between the Vietnam War and the war in Afghanistan. This expansion prompted the year-long review to “ensure that existing program participants are being treated equitably,” according to Military Times.

Officials expect about one-third of the 33,000 program recipients, or around 6,700 families, to be completely dropped from the program after the proposed changes. It is unclear how many more could see reductions in the amount of financial support they receive each month.

A group of 15 veterans service organizations submitted objections to the changes to PCAFC, which provides elderly and infirm veterans This program provides resources, education, support, a financial stipend, and health insurance, beneficiary travel, to caregivers of eligible Veterans.

One of the major complaints was that the new rules scheduled to go into effect in October “drastically changed the program’s eligibility criteria” resulting in “harsh impacts” for families, according to Military Times.

Others complain that the new rules were designed to cut the number of families eligible for benefits and disregard the medical and emotional needs of the veterans.

During his monthly press conference, McDonough said feedback received regarding the proposed changes concerned him enough to order the reevaluation:

“I am worried about the feedback we’re getting. We work for caregivers; we work for the veterans. We want to make sure that they’re getting the information they need and clarity about why we’re making the decisions we’re making.”

Following a year-long review of the program, where families suffered a rollercoaster of possibilities, ranging between additional eligibility to potential removal from the program, McDonough said that Deputy Secretary Donald Remy would lead a review of the program changes:

“(Review) to make sure that we’re learning everything we can from and that we’re making best use of investments Congress has made in this program.”

McDonough said he expects the evaluation to take several weeks and will focus on changes made to the program and how those changes are being communicated to the participant families:

“(Caregivers) will be a bigger part of the backbone as our aging veterans demonstrate that they, like the rest of the country, want to age in place,” he said. “And so, we want to get this right.”

Families cut from the program in October following the reevaluation will receive an additional five months of payments as they transition out, according to Program Executive Director Colleen Richardson.

Richardson pointed out that families that will be cut from the monthly stipend, which can total up to $3,000 monthly, will still qualify for other benefits including counseling and training:

“And even though they may not qualify for the stipend, they will still qualify for services within the caregiver support program.”

Stipend calculations are based on the severity of veterans’ injuries and the cost of living in the area where they live.

Battle for benefits: VA caregiver program changes could drop 6,700 disabled vets from benefits

‘A true legend’: U.S. Army honors actress and animal lover Betty White for her volunteer military service during WWII

January 1, 2022


LOS ANGELES, CA – New Year’s Eve, 2021, brought the hope of a new and better 2022, but it also brought sadness at the loss of a beloved comedic icon, one who not only entertained the masses, but also loyally served her country during World War II.

On Friday, December 31, the world was crushed to hear of the passing of actress and animal lover Betty White, who died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 99, just a scant two and a half weeks short of her 100th birthday.

White is probably best known for her long-running roles as “Happy Homemaker” Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 70’s, and endearing, naive Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls in the 80’s.

So beloved by audiences was White that, after a fan-driven campaign, she was tapped to host Saturday Night Live on May 8, 2011.  At age 88, she became the oldest person in the show’s history to do so.

White was also well-known as an active animal-rights activist.

For over 50 years, she worked closely with the Los Angeles Zoo, advocating for endangered species and helping improve conditions there.

In addition, she dedicated herself to other animal charity work and advocacy, and she herself adopted many animals in need.

Matt Bershadker, ASPCA president and CEO told the New York Post:

“Betty White demonstrated a lifelong commitment to helping animals in need, including dedicated support for local shelters and animal welfare endeavors, fiercely promoting and protecting animal interests in her entertainment projects, and personally adopting many rescued animals.”

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Not only did White serve up laughs for audiences and aid for animals, but she also served her country during World War II.

The U.S. Army made a point of honoring White in a recent tweet, saying:

“We are saddened by the passing of Betty White. 

“Not only was she an amazing actress, she also served during WWII as a member of the American Women’s Voluntary Services.

“A true legend on and off the screen.”

When the calls came in for help during the war effort, White put her acting aspirations on hold.  She joined the American Women’s Voluntary Services in 1941, at the age of 19.

According to Museum Textile Services, the American Women’s Voluntary Services (AWVS) was founded in January 1940 by international socialites who foresaw the U.S. involvement in World War II and established the group in anticipation of its need in the war effort.

By the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the group had grown to 18,000 members, and during the remainder of the war, the numbers grew to 325,000.

Museum Textile Services notes:

“The members provided a variety of services and support; they sold war bonds, and delivered messages, they drove ambulances, trucks, cycle corps and dog-sleds, they also worked in navigation, aerial photography, aircraft spotting, and fire safety.”

According to a 2010 interview in Cleveland Magazine, White donned her official uniform and was “assigned a job driving a PX truck of supplies up to the bivouacs in the Hollywood Hills.”

In addition, she helped entertain the troops at dances that were held before they were deployed.

White said of those times:

“It was a strange time and out of balance with everything… which I’m sure the young people are going through now. We’ll never learn. We’ll never learn.”

During her 91-year career, White won eight Emmys, three American Comedy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Grammy.

Rest in peace, dear Ms. White.  Thank you for the memories, and thank you for your loyal and dedicated service to this great country.





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