By NIKKI WENTLING | STARS AND STRIPES
WASHINGTON — Some veterans organizations on Wednesday urged lawmakers to pass legislative reforms for the Department of Veterans Affairs that include a mandate to expand caregiver benefits to veterans injured before 9/11 – a group that isn’t eligible now.
Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Paralyzed Veterans of America went to the Capitol and presented lawmakers with a printed petition, which stood several feet high and contained more than 182,000 signatures from people supportive of the expansion.
“We now maybe see a finish line, but it has to get done,” said Carl Blake, interim director of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “It’s not acceptable to wrangle over this any longer. Get it done. That’s our call to the Senate and the House.”
Benefits such as monthly stipends, health insurance and medical training to family caregivers and access to home health aides is now available only to post-9/11 veterans through a caregiver program implemented in 2010.