22. April 2011 · Comments Off on Guest Post – Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act · Categories: General, Veteran's Affairs

(The following was forwarded to me by reader Taylor Dardan for posting on the Brief, as something that might be of interest to older veterans.)
As the US continues air strikes on Libya and putting more soldiers in the line of fire, a number of older veterans are fighting for their own support back home in the United States. Since January there’s been a great amount of campaigning from veteran committees to get a support program for post-2001 veterans and their caregivers started through the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act. The law just passed the January 31st deadline in which it was supposed to get off the ground, therefore Barack Obama, who signed it last year, is coming under some pressure from these committees. Even with the fight to get this act through, it should be noted that veterans who served before 2001 with caregivers are given a very low amount of support, if any at all. So hopefully the continued push for support will further expand to include older veterans, many of whom are still dealing with illnesses brought on by their time in the military.
Although this act has been facing a number of hurdles and obstacles, representatives in Congress are hopeful to have it off the ground in the coming months of spring and summer. Congress has been mostly apologetic in the inability to get started and pointed towards their inexperience working with stipend pay as a major reason for the setbacks. The act itself, as mentioned earlier, would look to support post 2001 veterans through health services, training/education on care giving for vets, as well as payment for lodging expenses. Getting this act started would be a great move in providing veterans with more support, yet continued work to include older (pre 2001) veterans should continually be examined and pressed.
Care givers of veterans serving before 2001 are given little to no support at all currently, which includes a minor amount of respite care. A number of groups and committees, such as the American Legion are continuing the battle to seek an increased amount of support for the caregivers of older veterans.
There are certainly a number of ways that these older veterans have felt the repercussions of their military service in the form of illness and diseases. This includes a number of different health problems including mesothelioma developing from asbestos, mental problems stemming from Agent Orange in Vietnam, as well as a number of heightened health problems stemming from bad water at Camp LeJeune.
A number of veterans of the Vietnam War were exposed to a number of herbicides, also known as Agent Orange. What come from this exposure was a number of health and illness problems mostly in the mental health sector. Asbestos’ material has been used for a number of years in a number of different buildings, shipyards and factories on many military bases all over the country. The problem with its use throughout the 20th century involves its exposure leading to deadly diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. For example, mesothelioma life expectancy is only an average of 10 months following diagnosis; therefore care givers are often highly necessary for these patients. Contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina was a problem for over 30 years. Once the level of contamination was discovered, bacteria such as perchloreothylene and trichloroethylene were shown in high levels in the water. These have been concluded to exposure and increased risks of neurological effects, as well as Hodgkin’s disease and a number of different cancer types. Given some of the severe effects older veterans could still be feeling today, care givers are often necessary to them, therefore further support would be greatly invested.
The charge to get this act through to help post 2001 veterans should certainly be the first step in the progress towards increased support. Furthermore, extending this support level beyond younger veterans would do a number in helping some of the older veterans of military service, as well as their caregivers.

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