By Raymond Taylor
Archuleta County Veterans Service Office
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently published its final regulation to improve and expand the VA Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC), with the final regulation going into effect on Oct. 1.
Under the final regulation, PCAFC will include eligible veterans that have a single or combined service-connected disability rating by the VA of 70 percent or higher, regardless of whether it resulted from an injury, illness or disease.
This is a notable change to the definition of serious injury from the current regulations, among other improvements aimed at standardizing the PCAFC and improving transparency in the program.
Expansion of the VA’s PCAFC to eligible veterans of earlier eras will occur in two phases. The first phase will begin October 2020 and will include eligible veterans who incurred or aggravated a serious injury in the line of duty in the active, military, naval or air service on or before May 7, 1975. Phase two will go into effect two years later and include eligible veterans of all eras.
“The expanded regulation addresses the complexity and expense of keeping veterans at home with their families who provide personalized care,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “This will allow our most vulnerable veterans to stay with their loved ones for as long as possible. Expanding the program and eligibility for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers ensures we can continue to meet the changing needs of America’s veterans and their caregivers.”
Additionally, the new regulation will change the PCAFC stipend payment methodology, define new procedures for revocation and discharge, and include certain advance notice requirements aimed at improving communication between the VA and PCAFC participants, as well as include information for current program participants. The VA is also standardizing operating procedures for the Caregiver Support Program, providing new training for staff and caregivers, and boosting operational capacity by hiring additional staff. With this expansion, primary family caregivers in PCAFC will also have access to financial planning and legal services. The VA is also working to fully implement the new information technology system required by the VA MISSION Act of 2018 by October 2020.
The VA’s Caregiver Support Program offers support services for caregivers including training, peer mentoring, respite care, a telephone support line, and self-care courses for caregivers of covered veterans enrolled in VA health care who need personal care services.
Caregivers can visit the VA caregiver support website or call the Caregiver Support Line at (855) 260-3274 for questions.
If necessary, search for RIN 2900-AQ48, Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Improvements and Amendments under the VA MISSION Act of 2018.
The Vets4Vets has received a grant from the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is to support veterans in our community through the following assistance: housing, utilities, mental health counseling, dental services, travel assistance, automobile repairs, gas and food cards and emergency veteran assistance.
Contact Vets4Vets at (970) 799-VETS or www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.
Veterans: Thank you for your service. Welcome home.
For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office (VSO), located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.
The office: 264-4013, fax number: 264-4014, and email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Bring your DD Form 214 (discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the Archuleta County VSO. Always leave a message and phone number to contact you.