“[The Elizabeth Dole Foundation's] focus has been on understanding and addressing the needs of military caregivers, and programs like the PCAFC are a critical component to ensuring their voices are heard and their needs are met.â€� – Steven Schwab
WASHINGTON February 06, 2018
Steven Schwab, Executive Director of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, testified today before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs on the role of military caregivers, and their experiences with the VAâ€™s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC), a critical program that provides stipends for caregivers.
â€œCongress initially intended the PCAFC to serve a small number of caregivers â€“ those supporting only the most catastrophically wounded, post-9/11 veterans. Upon executing the program, the VA realized that many more caregivers needed this kind of support than originally anticipated, and the PCAFC expanded to serve more than 26,000 caregivers,â€� according to Schwab in his prepared testimony. â€œThis is nearly three times the number of caregivers for which the VA initially planned, and has led to significant implementation and administrative challenges.â€�
As the only national non-profit organization focused exclusively on Americaâ€™s 5.5 million military and veteran caregivers, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation has a unique vantage point when it comes to the role the VA and its programs play in the day-to-day lives of caregivers. The Foundation works closely with the department and its leadership to ensure caregivers are supported, empowered, and have the resources available to properly care for their loved ones. As the Foundationâ€™s seminal study on military caregivers, conducted by RAND, points out, â€œA well-supported caregiver is the single most important factor in a wounded warriorâ€™s recovery.â€�
To address the needs of caregivers, Schwab outlined three recommendations for the Committee to consider, including:
- Improving consistency and accountability in the execution of the program.
- Clearly defining and communicating the programâ€™s eligibility requirements.
- Effectively communicating to veterans and their caregivers all the programs and services available to them.
â€œI am pleased that the House Committee on Veterans Affairs called this hearing, and encouraged that they are taking the insights from military caregivers seriously,â€� Schwab said. â€œOur focus has been on understanding and addressing the needs of military caregivers, and programs like the PCAFC are a critical component to ensuring their voices are heard and their needs are met.â€�
To see the livestream video of the hearing, please visit: https://veterans.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=2034
About Elizabeth Dole Foundation
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is the preeminent organization empowering, supporting, and honoring our nationâ€™s 5.5 million military caregivers â€“ the spouses, parents, family members, and friends who care for Americaâ€™s wounded, ill or injured veterans at home. Founded by Senator Elizabeth Dole in 2012, the Foundation adopts a comprehensive approach in its support and advocacy, working with leaders in the public, private, nonprofit, and faith communities to recognize military caregiversâ€™ service and promote their well-being. Learn more about the Elizabeth Dole Foundation at http://www.elizabethdolefoundation.org.
The Hidden Heroes Campaign, an initiative of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, brings vital attention to the untold stories of military caregivers and provides a safe, secure place where caregivers can meet and access carefully vetted resources at HiddenHeroes.org. Another aspect of the Campaign, Hidden Heroes Cities, is an effort to galvanize local leaders across America to identify military caregivers in their communities and the local resources to support them. To date, 110 cities from San Antonio to New York, from Washington, DC to San Diego have signed on. Learn more about Hidden Heroes at http://www.hiddenheroes.org.