S. 216 would modify the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, under which the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides monthly compensation to family caregivers and offers them medical training, health benefits, and access to respite care (short-term relief for primary caregivers).
The bill would require VA to change the way it assesses veterans’ and caregivers’ eligibility for the program when their applications are based on a claim of a neurological disorder, psychological trauma, or mental illness. The bill also would require VA to establish procedures for mental health clinicians at VA medical facilities to document incidents in which a participating veteran shows an urgent need for mental health treatment or is judged to be at risk of suicide. In addition, the bill would authorize VA to provide grants to entities that support caregivers’ mental well-being. Finally, S. 216 would require VA and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct several studies and to report to the Congress on the program and its outcomes.