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Obama Signs Veterans, Caregivers Legislation

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 5, 2010 – President Barack Obama signed legislation today to improve health care for veterans and to recognize the important role that family caregivers play in the recovery of wounded personnel.

Obama recognized retired Army Sgt. Ted Wade and his wife, Sarah, during his remarks before signing the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act during a White House ceremony.

A roadside bomb wounded Wade when he served in Iraq in 2004, and his wife was an important reason why the sergeant made it through, Obama said.

The legislation expands mental health counseling and services for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, including reserve-component servicemembers.

“We’re authorizing the [Veterans Affairs Department] to utilize hospitals and clinics outside the VA system to serve more wounded warriors … with traumatic brain injury,” the president said before signing the bill.

The new law also increases support for veterans in rural areas with the transportation and housing needed to reach VA hospitals and clinics. It also expands health care for women veterans to meet their unique needs, including maternity care for newborn children, and it allows VA to launch a pilot program to provide child care for veterans receiving intensive medical care.

The legislation also eliminates co-payments for veterans who are catastrophically disabled, and it helps veterans who are homeless.

“We’re expanding support to homeless veterans, because in the United States of America, no one who has served this nation in uniform should ever be living on the streets,” Obama said.

The president said the legislation marks a major step forward in America’s commitment to families and caregivers who tend wounded warriors every day.

“They’re spouses like Sarah,” he said. “They’re parents, once again caring for their sons and daughters. Sometimes they’re children helping to take care of their mom or dad.

“These caregivers put their own lives on hold, their own careers and dreams aside, to care for a loved one,” he continued. “They do it every day, often around the clock. As Sarah can tell you, it’s hard physically and it’s hard emotionally. It’s certainly hard financially. And these tireless caregivers shouldn’t have to do it alone.”

The law gives caregivers a stipend to care for a severely injured veteran from Afghanistan or Iraq. They also will receive lodging allowances and get the training they need to care for their loved ones.

“If you need counseling, you’ll receive it,” Obama said. “If you don’t have health insurance, it will be provided. And if you need a break, it will be arranged – up to 30 days of respite care each year.”

The president said the new law recognizes the obligation Americans have for those who served.

“Just as we have a responsibility to train and equip them when we send them into harm’s way,” he said, “we have a responsibility to take care of them when they come home.”

The president said his administration has dramatically increased funding for veterans’ health care, especially for those with the signature wounds of today’s wars: post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. He also mentioned that VA has received its largest budget increase in history last year. 

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Related Sites:
Obama's Remarks
Special Report: Warrior Care


Article is closed to new comments.

The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

5/21/2010 7:28:55 PM
Although any help for us Veterans is very much appreciated and needed. Why not include all Vets ??? We have such a hard time getting our bennies, why not step this proccess up? This would stop a lot of homelessness!!!

5/19/2010 11:17:37 AM
I would like to here more about why the caqregivers of previous wars are not a part of the compensation? HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN? I have cared for my 100% disabled vietnam vet, husband for 30 years. I love him dearly, but the job is full time. Another slap in the face from our government...AND WHY ISN'T THIS BEING COVERED ON THE MAJOR NEWS????? Could it be another issue being kept quiet?
- Paula, Nevada

5/14/2010 9:18:47 PM
my son was in a line of duty accident in 2002 i took an early retirement because of his traumatic brain injury and what i found was little or no help for him in the northeast ,maybe now the va will open service's rather than cut and look for way's of cutting srervice's off from veteran's and maybe pick up copay's when they are unwilling to help veterans at their facilities and are forced to go to civilian hospital's
- brian t mccollum sr , woodbridge, nj

5/9/2010 7:20:53 PM
What about Desert Storm, Vietnam, and World War 2 vets and their caregivers. They are the ones most stressed and most in need.
- Anthony Swetala, Tulare, CA

5/6/2010 8:56:22 PM
I find it wonderful that soldiers are recognized for defending democracy anywhere, but I also believe that those solders that were not injured physically or severely mentally ill but mildly touched by the(in this case) the Vietnam War. After so much fighting hard in the civilian life to become a professional but nobody has cared for those also brave soldiers that were there.
- Angel Sanchez, Puerto Rico

5/6/2010 8:45:19 PM
I want to thank you for signing this bill. But this budget doesn't include a COLA increase,when will Veterans get an increase? If you don't want more Veterans living in the streets this is the time to help bail us out.
- Frank, Florida

5/6/2010 11:20:48 AM
finally,someting is being done to help these people who need the finest care.I guess it takes a law to get anything done; and so apparently the President is mandateing in this most important area I am ever so impressed.
- pamela, fl

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