July 21st, 2009
06:02 PM ET
13 years ago

Wounded Warrior Program urges funding for war vet caregivers

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Families of wounded war veterans and politicians met on Capitol Hill Tuesday to urge Congress to pass bipartisan legislation that would provide services to caregivers of injured American soldiers.

Supporters and members of the Wounded Warrior Project - which raises awareness of injured soldiers' needs and provides services to them - stressed in a news conference that not enough is being done to support the people who have made significant financial sacrifices to care for injured soldiers.

"As nation, we're failing these families by not providing them the basic support they need to continue to care for their loved ones," said Wounded Warrior Executive Director Steve Nardizzi in support of the Caregiver Assistance and Resource Enhancement Act.

He also was critical of the Department of Veterans Affairs, saying it needs to "acknowledge its obligation" to families and help provide them compensation, respite care, health-care coverage, and mental health support.

"It is the mission and the obligation of the VA to support not only the wounded warriors, but their families, because without that support these wounded warriors would not be able to live and thrive and lead successful lives," Nardizzi said.

The department released a statement to CNN saying, "Not all health care and rehabilitation occur in a hospital or clinic. VA is grateful for the important, caring work performed by countless caregivers on behalf of our nation's veterans. We know that all who support our service members also serve when their loved ones put on a uniform."

The department, it said, "will continue to look for ways to appropriately support these compassionate providers as they help our veteran heroes regain and maintain their health."

Cindy Parsons, a single mother and former emergency room nurse, is among the caregivers struggling financially. She left her job in 2006 to care for her son, who returned from Iraq with a traumatic brain injury and a bilateral above-knee amputation. He is unable to read, write, or perform other basic functions.

She no longer has any income or medical benefits, she said, and she suffers from secondary post traumatic stress disorder.

"If something happens to me, what will happen to my son?" Parsons asked. "We need to address these issues."

It is not uncommon for caregivers in situations similar to Parsons' to give up their jobs to provide for debilitated vets, who are most often spouses or family members. With no source of income and consequentially no health insurance, the bills add up.

"These families are being stretched to the breaking point, and we need to take action immediately," Nardizzi urged.

Virginia Reps. Tom Perriello, a Democrat, and Rob Wittman, a Republican, also attended the news conference and pledged their support for the Caregiver Assistance and Resource Enhancement Act.

"In the same way that their family members took their marching orders from their generals and their commanders, we're trying to take marching orders from our military families, who let us know what it's like, what the needs are," Perriello said.

The act, introduced in the House this month, is targeted at veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Filed under: Veterans Affairs
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Southerner

    Another Socialist agenda. May be right but it is still Socialist since we are in the argument of not supporting certain legislation since it is Socialist.

    July 21, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  2. JonDie

    If anyone is counting on the military to do the right thing, forget it. Our military leaders, especially the recruiters, are mostly a disgrace to their country.

    Autistic Marine pleads guilty to desertion
    The Associated Press
    Monday, July 20, 2009; 9:35 PM

    CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - "An autistic Marine has received a three-year suspended sentence and given a bad-conduct discharge after he pleaded guilty to desertion and other charges at Camp Pendleton...The Marine Corps is investigating how Fry was allowed to enlist even though his recruiter knew he had been diagnosed as autistic..."

    July 21, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  3. Zero.

    They both ride side-saddle?

    July 21, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  4. C W

    I've heard estimates that the total cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will be in the range of $3 trillion, in large part because of all the unexpected traumatic injury inflicted on our soldiers.

    These men and women deserve our support – and shame on Donald Rumsfeld and all the other "architects" who not only didn't listen to our generals when planning the invasion of Iraq, but who didn't/wouldn't properly protect our soldiers and their vehicles.

    That's what you get when Chicken Hawks are in charge.

    July 21, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  5. Waiting for 2010

    This is one program I would support. These people were hurt while serving our country.

    Illegals and Welfare recipients are a bunch of leaches who have done nothing for our country.

    July 21, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  6. Different Subject: The Soldier Who Questions Obama's Birth

    Soldier Decides He Can't Go To War Because Obama Is Not American.

    I totally disagree, this soldier is too stupid to serve in the US Army. I've never heard or seen anything like it. If any soldier could decide whether they wanted to go to war based on their like or dislike for a president, no one would go.

    My advice to Cook, go home dragging your tail behind you. We don't need you over there with our brave men and women.

    July 21, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  7. Republicans Suck

    I am confident the Rethugs will vote "NO" no this as well.

    July 21, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  8. windrider

    I'm certainly willing to pay more taxes to make this happen. We owe our veterans the necessary care after they've sacrificed so much, and all indications are that the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are the most badly damaged, both physically and emotionally, of ANY American war. It's like we're seeing Vietnam damage to the nth degree with these men and women. Since we were stupid enough to send them off to fight an unnecessary war in Iraq, especially after the Vietnam experience, then we owe them the very best support and care that can be paid for their service and sacrifice.

    July 21, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  9. S Callahan

    This is a wise investment...healing the wounded..or at least helping them on the way......
    Good programs need to take hold :ie: brain injury programs that do assesments one or two years after the fact since it's hard to determine on a closed injury what the 'real' impact is right away.
    Borrow techniques from the private sector that are proven effective...
    This is a cause worth fighting for!

    July 21, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  10. Tinker

    And Meanwhile, GW and Cheney , continue to be funded by taxpayer dollars. And in fact, Cheney's expensive "protection service" has been extended.
    Boy is this some country or what?

    July 21, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  11. Larry

    This matter should have been taken care of the first day of the war.

    I can't believe the way this country treats our wounded heroes!

    July 21, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  12. Greg

    sounds like a handout or socialism to me. I hope all Republicans will vote against this.

    July 21, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  13. roger

    This is a great idea and i fully support it But when 10 to 20 million ILLEGALS need heath care we may be S.O.L. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 21, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  14. Gwen K.Smith

    It sad that we always talk about supporting our troop and providing them the best of care for them and their families. Having a yellow ribbon on your car, saying God Bless America" and 'We support our troops" is the extent of our support.

    So News Media , Press, etc, make this story the Headline 24/7 coverage and not "What Jon & Kate, Sarah Palin, Rush Limberg, are doing," or hours of pundits, commentary , bubble heads/ anchors, talking heads, pontificating about their expert opinions and fake journalist skills. Also stop your disrepect and discrimination of our President and First Lady by referring to them as OBAMA" A carry over from our nation's slavery and Jim Crow practice used to disrepect and devalue African Americans.

    All of us need to make this a top priority by contacting our representative in Congress, The White House and The VA to do whats right . Andto all American do what you can to help volunteer some time, lend a helping hand to families you know or contact the local American Leagues or VA to see what you can do. Finanical plans distribution and health reform take time.

    Waving a Flag, Dress in Red, White, and Blue, Country First , rethoric is not enough.

    July 21, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  15. Frisky

    Please give these wounded veterans everything they need. It is disgraceful that we aren't supporting them! I hate the war but LOVE MY TROOPS. Thes brave men and women did their duty, it is time the country does their duty to them.

    July 21, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  16. Independent_me

    We should be ashamed at how our Vets are treated! We like to brag about our soldiers being the best etc., etc.,...but when it comes to caring for them we turn our backs on them. They deserve the best healthcare an benefits. We should never scrimp on Vet care! Period!

    July 21, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  17. martin in nj

    It disgusts me that my tax dollars are used to turn otherwise good-hearted, patriotic men and women into killers and then send them out into the world to practice the abominable skills they've developed. But I am very proud of every penny of my taxes that go to the rehabilitation and care of those who return home physically and/or mentally damaged and scarred from the experience. It should also be noted that a disproportionate number of those who volunteer for military service are from families living in or near poverty and can least afford the cost of the long-term care warfare makes necessary. It seems to me that is the least a "grateful nation" can do for those who choose to serve and there can be no question that they have earned more assistance than they are given today and the best treatment available.

    July 21, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |