The Department of Veterans Affairs is looking for new members for its committee that advises Secretary Robert Wilkie on issues related to caregivers and family members of veterans.
In a Federal Register notice Wednesday, VA officials said they are seeking nominations for the board, which was established in 2017 to study and provide recommendations on caregiver and family needs, programs, services and benefits.
The current board is made up of 20 members of the military and veterans support community and is chaired by former Sen. Elizabeth Dole. Dole is a caregiver to her husband, veteran and former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole, and founder of the non-profit Elizabeth Dole Foundation. Other members include Bonnie Carroll, president and founder of Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors; Lee Woodruff, caregiver and co-founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation; Ellyn Dunford, wife of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford; and retired Army Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, among others.
The committee provides information, recommendations and feedback to the VA secretary on the department's family support programs, and care and benefits for family members, caregivers and survivors.
In its first report released in April, the committee made 12 recommendations to the VA designed to improve communications with family members and caregivers and provide better support for them as they care for their veteran or raise families without them.
Among the recommendations that the VA agreed to implement wholly or in part were:
- Initiate an effort to identify all programs available to caregivers and ensure that they are coordinated and accessible.
- Establish a central office for managing programs affecting families, caregivers and survivors.
- Collect and analyze data on families, caregivers and children to better understand their needs.
- Make improvements to ensure that caregivers are integrated into health care discussions, treatment and social services involving their veterans.
More than 19,000 post-9/11 veterans are enrolled in the VA's Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, and nearly 400,000 spouses, children and parents of veterans receive dependency and indemnity compensation from the VA.
Board members serve as a voice for these military families. According to the notice, the VA is seeking nominations from the affected population, veterans organizations and state veterans associations, the federal government, academia and other institutions vested in veterans benefits and policies to serve for up to two years.
"To the extent possible, the secretary seeks members who have diverse professional and personal qualifications including but not limited to subject matter experts in the areas described above," the notice states.
Deadline for submissions is July 1.