WASHINGTON – Family members of severely wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who forgo jobs and health insurance to provide care for an injured loved one would get relief under a bill unanimously passed by the House on Wednesday.
The estimated $1.7 billion in caregiver benefits over a five-year period was part of comprehensive veterans legislation that would open the door wider for the Veterans Affairs Department to offer assistance to veterans’ family members.
It instructs the VA to create a childcare pilot program; offer post-delivery care to female veterans’ newborns; and work with the Pentagon on a study on veteran suicide. It also expands funding for programs assisting homeless veterans and those in rural areas. The five-year cost is estimated at $3.7 billion.
It passed 419-0.
Under it, caregivers of the estimated 2,000 severely wounded veterans from the recent conflicts would be eligible for training, a monthly stipend and health care.
The House and Senate had earlier passed separate versions of the bill. The compromise version now goes back to the Senate.