Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that on July 27, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by voice vote, legislation to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide certain caregivers of veterans with training, support, and medical care, and for other purposes. Known as the “Caregiver Assistance and Resource Enhancement Act,” H.R. 3155 would address the important question of who will provide continuing care for injured servicemen and servicewomen once they transition to veteran status.
“I certainly want to commend my colleague, the chief sponsor of this legislation, Congressman Mike Michaud of Maine, for his leadership and sponsorship of this bill. I also want to thank the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Chairman Filner of California, Ranking Member Buyer, and my friend, Congressman Stearns, for their support on this important issue,” Faleomavaega said.
“Today, more service members are surviving the wounds of war than those injured in previous conflicts. For example, the ratio of wounded to killed averaged approximately 1.7 wounded for every fatality for the first world wars. In the Korean and Vietnam wars, the ratio improved to three wounded per fatality, largely due to air medical evacuation. In Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, improved body armor and superior battlefield medicine techniques have resulted in seven wounded per fatality,” Faleomavaega explained.
“The fact of the matter is there is a growing need to provide continuing care to those injured and wounded from recent conflicts once they reach veteran status. As a result, providing support and resources to those giving care to these wounded and injured veterans is of real concern. Unfortunately, the Veterans Administration does not collect data that would enable us to assess the number of veterans currently under continuing care. More significantly, there is no data available to assess the number of caregivers, whether they be family members or other individuals.”
“This bill, H.R. 3155, would address that concern. It will require the VA to conduct a caregivers survey at least once every 3 years of individuals caring for veterans enrolled in the VA health care system and report back to Congress no later than 180 days after the date of which the survey has been completed” Faleomavaega added.
“Moreover, this bill would improve the quality of treatment and care of our veterans. Specifically, it would create a new caregiver program in order to provide coordinated support services to those that are giving care to our veterans. Training would be made available to caregivers through the Veterans Administration. Pertinent information would be disseminated to make sure that the caregivers are aware and well informed of services and resources available to them,” Faleomavaega said.
“I am very pleased that under this measure, Congress continues to provide assistance to our Veterans and their families. If enacted, family members and individuals providing care to our wounded soldiers in American Samoa would have the necessary resources and support,” Faleomavaega concluded.