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VA to review veteran caregiver program after concerns over loss of benefits

The VA said it plans to evaluate why caregivers are being removed from the program and whether the program is denying too many families.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs said it plans to conduct an internal review of its veteran caregiver program.

KFOX14 Investigates has learned veteran caregivers are being dismissed from the program at an alarming rate.

The VA said it plans to evaluate why caregivers are being removed from the program and whether the program is denying too many families.

One veteran advocacy group found 26,000 caregivers have been dropped from the program in the last two years.

That means they lost the stipends that help them stay home and take care of their veterans.

In El Paso, there are 150 families in the caregiver program, and some of those families told KFOX14 Investigates that their benefits have been drastically cut.

One woman said the VA diagnosed her husband as being permanently disabled.

He has a traumatic brain injury and PTSD, but she said that right before the holidays, the caregiver program told her he had improved and their benefits were being cut -- even though his doctors have not changed his diagnosis or level of disability.

The woman said she feels like she’s taking care of a 5-year-old at times.

“I’m no longer a wife. I’m a caregiver,” the woman said. “It’s no longer a husband-wife relationship. It’s more of a parent-child, and it sucks because you no longer have your spouse.”

Michael L. Amaral, the director of the El Paso VA Health Care System, said that it remains fully committed to the National Caregiver Support Program, ensuring that the program is run based on VA central office-provided guidelines and that the veterans’ quality of life is improved.

“(The) VA is taking immediate action to review the National Caregiver Support Program to ensure we honor our commitment to enhance the health and well-being of veterans,” said Dr. David Shulkin, secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The VA said it has stopped dropping caregivers for three weeks while it conducts this review.

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