Brown Convenes Virtual Roundtable with Veteran Caregivers in Ohio

Senator Sits on Senate Veterans’ Committee

WASHINGTON, DC –  January 21, 2022 – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a virtual roundtable this week with veteran caregivers who are in jeopardy of being disenrolled from the Veteran Caregiver Support Program later this year. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) estimates that about 6,700 of the 19,800 legacy participants will be discharged from the program due to program regulation changes made in 2020. Brown has long supported the expanded Caregivers Program, which offers support and services for caregivers of eligible veterans, including education and training, mental health counseling, respite care, and a monthly stipend. Brown vowed to continue fighting for the Caregivers Program and pressing VA to address this issue.

“Our veterans rely on their caregivers in big and small ways every day. I heard directly from Ohioans about how the Caregiver Support Program has provided them and their veterans with resources and support as they navigate care at VA. My thanks to all our veteran caregivers and we need to ensure they have the resources and support to continue to provide care to our veterans,” said Brown.

Brown will take the veterans’ caregivers’ priorities back to Washington, where he sits on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Brown has long fought to improve the lives of Ohio veterans. Some of his recent actions include:

In December, Brown raised concerns with VA Secretary Denis McDonough about VA’s Caregivers Program expansion, electronic health record (EHR) system, claims processing, and predatory for-profit colleges. In August, Brown sent a letter to Sec. McDonough expressing concern over the growing backlog of compensation and pension claims being filed with the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). Due to a COVID-19 temporary pause of in-person Compensation and Pension (C&P) examinations.

In May 2020, Brown and a group of Senate Democrats pressed then VA Secretary Robert Wilkie about the future and management of the Department’s support program for veteran caregivers, and requested more information about the Department’s preparedness to serve more veterans as it implements the long overdue expansion of the critical program to veterans of all eras.

Brown is continuing to push to get his bipartisan legislation, the Daniel J. Harvey Jr. and Adam Lambert Improving Servicemember Transition to Reduce Veteran Suicide Act passedThis bill would create a pilot program to add a new component to the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). Specifically, the bill is designed to counsel servicemembers about mental health, the challenges that they might face during transition to civilian life and how that might affect their mental health, and the services available to them at their local Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facility.

A modified version of Brown’s bipartisan legislation – the SFC Heath Robinson Burn Pit Transparency Act – to help veterans who have been harmed by exposure to toxic burn pits, was reported out of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in May 2021 as a part of a larger legislative package, the Comprehensive and Overdue Support for Troops (COST) of War Act of 2021.

Brown joined colleagues in 2020 in reintroducing legislation that would mandate the VA reimburse veterans’ emergency health care expenses from non-VA facilities that are not covered by the veteran’s private insurance. This bicameral legislation follows the 2016 Staab v. McDonald and 2019 Wolfe v. Wilkie decisions, both ruling that the VA must reimburse veterans for these emergency medical expenses.