WASHINGTON D.C. — David Burris served his country in the US Navy during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1967.
Burris has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma and peripheral neuropathy. His health requires him to have 24-hour supervision, which is performed by his family at his request — his daughter, Dannielle Sedam, said he wanted his family to care for him because he didn’t want to go to a nursing home.
Sedam wrote to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in support of extending the Military and Veteran Caregiver Service Improvement Act to incorporate veterans of all eras. Within days she heard back from him.
“I didn’t think he’d respond so quickly,” said Sedam. “It means a lot that he’s working on this, and it means a lot to me, my family, and veterans.”
Sedam was also invited to speak during Brown’s weekly news phone conference on Wednesday, which included members of the media throughout Ohio, including the News Journal.
The bipartisan legislation would make resources available to eligible family members or loved ones who care for veterans, including child care, financial assistance, and legal counseling. The bill would also give veterans who participate in the program the opportunity to transfer GI benefits to a dependent who acts as a caregiver.
Post-9/11 vets and caregivers are already eligible for support; Brown’s bill would expand the program to cover veterans and caregivers from all era.
“Allowing all veterans and their families to be a part of the caregiver program will give families like mine the opportunity to show how much we care and give us a chance to give them back something when they gave so much,” said Sedam.
Specifically, the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act would:
• Extend eligibility for caregiver support services to veterans of all eras
• Allow veterans the opportunity to transfer GI Bill benefits to a dependent
• Include a broader range of injuries eligible for the caregiver program, including a greater emphasis on mental health injuries
• Expand child care and respite services and provide stipends to offset costs associated with child care, financial advice and legal counseling
• Coordinate caregiver policies and services among VA departments
Currently, post-9/11 veterans who have sustained a serious mental or physical injury and require assistance carrying out daily living activities are eligible for the VA caregiver program. Brown’s bill would phase in new veterans to the caregiver program based on need to maintain quality service for veterans and their caregivers.
“Whether they served in recent conflicts or sacrificed for us in earlier eras, all of our veterans and the loved ones who care for them deserve our support,” said Brown. “The bill would make caregivers for all veterans, regardless of when they served, eligible for support services.
“These men and women may not wear a uniform, but they sacrifice for our nation all the same.”
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574