The Caregiver Act – how wartime veterans can afford a home care provider

In this episode, John Ross and Lisa Shoalmire discuss affording home care and the new Caregiver Act for wartime vets.

Episode Transcript
Lisa
Welcome, welcome everyone, to another addition of Aging Insight. This is Lisa Shoalmire, here live in the studio with John Ross.
John
That's me. I'm a member of the board of directors over there at the Rehab Hospital. Part of the Rehab Hospital includes the St. Michael's Fitness Center, over there.
Lisa
Yes.
John
With their pool and everything. I was over having myself a swim this morning and ended up inadvertently, essentially, but by invitation, joining the masters swim group over at St. Michael's. Now, masters does not... This is not like ninja masters.
Lisa
Well...
John
This is not the pinnacle, this is not the elite of the elite, but it's basically anybody that competes over the age of 18.
Lisa
Yeah so, kind of like masters in golf. You have to be a certain age to be...
John
Right, but when it comes to swimming it's 18 to 118. It's basically all your adult folks. And this group, apparently, they get together 3 times a week, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays. They were nice enough to let me join along this morning. And part of the reason I bring this up is because I read an article, or I guess Lisa you had read an article this week, that talked about water exercising is actually the only exercise that is ever been shown to rebuild cartilage.
Lisa
Right, I had read a study this week talking about study of middle age, and older folks, who may have experienced some problems with their knees, in particular. And of course, your doctor looks at your knees and they'll tell you, "Oh you don't have hardly any cartilage left." And you're looking at knee replacement surgery down the road. But, it seems as if some water type exercises, non-weight bearing, because the water's supporting your weight. But, apparently not only does it protect you while your exercising, but in according to this study, when they did scans of the areas, after some period of time, the cartilage had actually begun to rebuild. Which is... Now that's amazing good stuff.
John
It is. And we've talked about that on the radio before. But, we talk to people all the time out there who say that among their many concerns is, they do not want to go to a nursing home. And they don't want to be a burden on their friends and family. And the third concern they have is, they don't want to go broke as they get older paying for long term care and things like that. And from a legal and a financial standpoint, we can establish trusts and different things to help you shield your assets, and protect and preserve your resources, so that they will be available to provide you a quality of life at some point in time in the future. What I can't do though, is fix what's wrong with you physically.
Lisa
Right. We're not that kind of doctor.
John
We're not that kind of doctor. But, that's where the folks over at St. Michael's... You can get over there, you can swim, you can work out. Actually, every time I go there I see clients.
Lisa
Right. Well, that's good.
John
They're over there following some good advice, and getting some exercise so that they can avoid going to the nursing home at some point.
Lisa
Well and you know, John, that is something we see quite a bit, is a lot of times it's the ability to ambulate, to walk, and to transfer oneself, that really becomes the driver of the change in housing that might be needed, or the type of assistance that might be needed. And maybe in a future show we'll talk about this, but the Medicare Certifications to get the operations and things you need, that's becoming a little dicier.
John
It is.
Lisa
So, the best thing you can do for yourself is to take what steps you can to protect your health and your abilities.
John
Yeah, yeah. The best way to not get caught in a tangle of government healthcare mess is to not need the healthcare.
Lisa
Well that's true, and John, while we're not gonna get into that today, I will tell you that when you start looking at all this and you start dealing with particular situations, I mean, sometimes you just... The old saying, they used to call it going postal where you just wanna mow down a whole bureaucracy with all this Medicare stuff and everything going on, and this is my lead-in here to our movie coming up that we're sponsoring, "Range 15", at the Cinemark Theater where I think there's a lot of mowing down maybe zombies with a military style weapons.
John
Yeah, we talked about this a little bit the last week, but there's a movie out there that was made by a couple of veterans, that they wanted to portray veterans more like veterans really are, which... There's a great quote from, I believe it's... Yeah, I think it's Eleanor Roosevelt maybe, about the Marines, and she talked about them having the cleanest bodies and the filthiest minds. And she just kind of goes through this laundry list and...
Lisa
Well Eleanor [chuckle]
John
Yeah. But the point is, is that our military community, they're a lot of fun, they got a great sense of humor. It may be colorful, at times.
Lisa
I suspect it will be.
John
So these guys wanted to put together a movie that really portrayed veterans like they really are and some of the humor that they have, which is not... Again, it's colorful and it's crass.
Lisa
Little gallows.
John
Yeah little gallows humor, and some of that sort of thing. But they wanted to put this movie together written by veterans, starring veterans.
Lisa
Yes. And so I have a summary for our listeners out there who've heard us talk about it the last couple of shows. According to IMDb, which is the oracle internet movie database for all things Hollywood, the plot summary is that a group of veterans wake up after a night of partying, I'm sure those scenes in the movie oughta be fun, to find out that a zombie apocalypse have spread across the United States!
John
That's right.
Lisa
And together they must fight their way across the country in order to find a cure for the outbreak and restore freedom before it's too late.
John
That's right.
Lisa
So this is not I think some sort of "Godfather" Oscar winning type plot, but it sounds to me like there's going to be some shoot 'em ups and some American patriotism and fighting off zombies.
John
And the neat thing is who is in this movie, some of the actors that are in this movie. For example, we have Marcus Lutrell, this would be the lone survivor, the real lone survivor, the guy Mark Walberg played.
Lisa
Right.
John
This is the real guy, he's in the movie. The young Airman, Alex Skarlatos that beat that Muslim terrorist on the train...
Lisa
In Paris.
John
In Paris.
Lisa
Yeah.
John
He's in it.
Lisa
Yeah, that kid, he was touring Paris and he's an Air Force Reservist, I think, was the deal, and a terrorist tried to start shooting up a train, a subway train in Paris, and there was America right there in the form of this kid who subdued the terrorist. So he has a plot or a part in the movie as does a couple names you might recognize, William Shatner, Captain Kirk himself...
John
That's right.
Lisa
Is going to make an appearance, and Sean Astin. So maybe for, if we have some younger listeners, the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit type actor.
John
Yep. And Danny Trejo. Who's a... He's been in a lot of movies, a large Hispanic guy, big tattoo across his back. He seems to play a bad guy in a lot of movies.
Lisa
Well I think he might be typecast, he kind of looks like a bad guy.
John
He does look like a bad guy, although I understand he's actually a very nice guy. One of my friends actually knows Danny Trejo pretty well and says he's a pretty nice guy. But those names you might actually know. Unfortunately, there's probably a couple of names that you don't know that you should know. For example, Leroy Petry is in the movie, and if that name doesn't sound familiar that's too bad because Leroy Petry is one of our recent medal of honor winners. He won the medal of honor I believe back in 2008, because of actions occurring in Afghanistan where he was fighting as an army ranger. And if you read the award it's pretty crazy. He was injured, both legs, and yet he still engaged the enemy. They don't really give those CMHs away.
Lisa
Yeah. No, well, and speaking of that I guess Dakota Meyer is also...
John
He was, although I guess there was... At some point in time I think he had a few little personal things maybe that were going on and he backed out there at the last minute. But lot's of neat people that are in this movie and our ordeal was is they weren't gonna bring it to Texarkana.
Lisa
Right, they weren't gonna bring it to Texarkana. And we do have a large military system here. We don't have a big base, but we've got Red River Army Depot, and we have a lot of veterans who work out there. We certainly have a Marine transport reserve unit here. And of course, we have lots of folks that have served in the military, and people always complaining that nothing happens in Texarkana or...
John
We don't get stuff, we don't get... So, we wanted to make sure that this movie was able to come to Texarkana and that the veterans and active duty military people were able to come. And so, we reached out to 'em and coordinated it.
Lisa
Right. And so for our listeners, this is not... We don't make a dime on any of this. This is just... We just acted as a point person to be the contact to bring it to Texarkana and to advertise it and get it clinched to where it was going to show here in town. We've had a lot of response, a lot of thank yous from people and we haven't even gotten to the movie yet. Just bringing it in.
John
And the neat thing is that we've also had several folks that have gone on and purchased tickets where you can go, for example, you can go to our Facebook page for Ross & Shoalmire or Aging Insight, or my personal John Ross Facebook page, any of those places and you'll find links to where you can buy tickets. For example, one of my former clients, a woman named Marsha Foland who... Her and her family, the Duke family, they bought 10 tickets, and gave them to me for purposes of making sure that any active duty military personnel would be able to attend. So, I got to go over to the reserve offices, I mean the recruiting offices over there at the mall the other day and find out how many guys we had over there that wanted to come. And so, they're all excited about it. In fact, they've even got a couple of other folks that are gonna get to go because of some of the donated tickets.
Lisa
Yeah. And that movie event is going to be on, John is that July 13th, Wednesday?
Lisa
That's right. You will not be able to walk up to the window and get a ticket. You must purchase your ticket online through the links that you will find on our Facebook pages. And I don't know why that is, we didn't make that rule but that is how they're doing it. So there is no on-site purchasing of tickets at Cinemark, you must have your ticket when you appear on Wednesday, July 13th.
John
That's right. Well, we're gonna take a quick break and we'll be back. And we're gonna keep talking about some veterans things, we're going to talk about the movie, we're even going to have a little trivia contest and give away a couple of tickets a little bit later in the show, so stick around.
John
Welcome back, everybody. This is your host, John Ross, and here in the studio with Lisa Shoalmire. Today we've started off just kinda talking about the movie "Range 15", that we're bringing to Texarkana. And part of the reason we're doing this is we like to do things for the community, we like to do things for Texarkana, and particularly, we like to do things for our military community and I thought this one was a cool thing to do. And so, we wanted this to come to town and we made it happen.
Lisa
Well, yeah. And a lot of our focus on our military community has been on our senior veterans, our World War II and Korean veterans, and through our veterans history projects and all that. And this particular event might appeal more toward our younger veterans and active duty folks, but...
John
Which I include myself in that.
Lisa
Well, yeah. [chuckle] So...
John
Young is all a state of mind.
Lisa
That's right. But I think the movie, I think it does have some coarse language, I think it's pretty graphic as far as the zombie killing and all goes...
John
This is a movie that has earned it's rated R rating.
Lisa
Right. So, I think to keep that in mind and if that's not the kind of movie you like, well then certainly you might wanna pass on this opportunity. But it takes all sorts of things going on to engage people in the community, so this is just one of those things.
John
Yeah, no, that's exactly right. True, it should be a lot of fun. We may very well be having a little pre...
Lisa
Event meet-up.
John
Event meet-up.
Lisa
Details to come.
John
Yeah, details to come on that. If you reserve tickets, you have to again like we said early, you have to reserve online. There are only 33 tickets left before we are completely sold out.
Lisa
Yeah. And I think it's gonna be fun in the sense that a theater three quarters or full or completely full of folks who wanna be there, who think they might enjoy this type of movie, it ought to be like going to the movies with a bunch of friends. [laughter]
John
Yeah, that's the plan. And like I say, we may have a little event. If you reserve online, I will have your email address. And so, as we continue to put together events, for example, having a pre-party before the movie, pre-showing party things like that, you'll get emails about that sort of thing. And like you said, Lisa, the whole point of all of this was to address some of the needs, or some of the interests of some of our younger veterans out there who... Like I said, at least in our practice we are elder law attorneys and people have a tendency to say, "Oh, y'all just deal with old people things."
Lisa
Well, we certainly do. But for those of you who may be aware, of course, we've been at war for, gosh, what, 10 years now?
John
Yeah. And at least if you're going by the actual designation of a war period, they declared war in 1990 for the first invasion of Iraq, and it has not been undeclared since.
Lisa
Right. And then we've had direct combat in Iraq, in Afghanistan, after 9/11, and what the high level politics and all that is all about, I can't really tell you. But what I can tell you, is that we have a number of younger veterans who have engaged in combat operations and have seen and done very intense activities along with what I understand is a lot of boring, [chuckle] sitting around activities.
John
Well, yeah, that's every military person. But, yeah, there are some...
Lisa
But we've dealt with... Yeah, we've dealt with veterans who have PTSD and all of those things.
John
Yeah. And there are some newer benefits available that for some of our younger veterans, some of our post-9/11 veterans, and the reason I mention this is because there are active movements to try to expand some of these benefits down to the broader veteran population. So we're gonna talk about some of these benefits, and how they might be accessed and used and things like that, after this break.
Lisa
Welcome back everyone to Aging Insight. I'm Lisa Shoalmire here in the studio with John Ross. And today we talked about the movie coming up on July 13th, "Range 15", but really a lot of the reason for talking about that is we've got some new benefits, or some veterans benefits available to our younger veterans we wanted to talk about. But John, before we jump into that. With this movie, we had a very generous client who doesn't even live in this area.
John
No. He lives somewhere out of state...
Lisa
Nevada, California. Yeah.
John
Yeah, out of state.
Lisa
But he's been a client of ours and continuing so, and he saw our Facebook and he said, "You know, I don't live in Texarkana. I can't be a part of that, but I wanna help you make it happen for Texarkana." So he bought some tickets and he just asked that we give some of them away.
John
Yeah, yeah. And this guy, I asked him if we could mention his name and he said, "Yes." And so...
Lisa
Okay. Okay, I didn't know. [chuckle]
John
Yeah. So you're beating around the bush there, but, yeah.
Lisa
Yeah, I know.
John
Yeah. James Tyler is one of our clients, has been a client for a while. And he's also a big military supporter. He's a big Air Force guy.
Lisa
Yeah. That's right?
John
And he said, "John, I'm gonna a buy two tickets, want you to give them away on the air? But on one condition, you have to ask some sort of military-type question or whatever." And he gave me a suggestion that was kind of a joke and I thought it was pretty funny. I'm not gonna use it. Basically...
John
His whole thing was he said, "Well, here's one... Something like this." And he said, "Well, you know if the Army calls their special forces guys Green Berets, and the Navy calls their special forces guys SEALs, what do the Marines call their super soldiers?" And of course, the answer is Marines.
Lisa
Right. Yeah, we might be here all day...
Lisa
Well, unless that the Marine was the first one that called. I don't know.
John
That's right. So that's not actually the question. But here's the question I came up with, 'cause I thought in honor of James.
Lisa
Of James, and his Air Force...
John
That we would come up with an Air Force type question. So back in 1932, there was a couple of parents with their new baby and the parents were... They were Ray and Carrie, and Ray and Carrie could not think of a name for their son back in 1932. And so they just named him JR, no last name, no first name, no middle name, just JR.
Lisa
All right. Well, I guess you can do that.
John
Now, a few years later, JR decides he's gonna join... He's gonna enlist in the Air Force, but when he talked to the recruiters and they said, "What's your name?" He said, "JR" And they said, "Well, that doesn't work. We have to have a first name, a middle initial and a last name."
Lisa
That's right, because that's what the form says. [laughter]
John
'Cause that's what the form says. "This is government, there's a form, and you have to fill in the form exactly as the form asks." So they said, "We need a first name, a middle initial and a last name." And so who is this famous airman?
Lisa
Yes. So this airman did in fact enlist. And so he made up a name for himself and had a military career, or at least an enlistment period. And he served active duty and then he went on to other things after.
John
That's right, went on to other things. If you know who JR was...
Lisa
Born in 1932.
John
Yeah. Then give us a call at 903-793-1071, and first person to call and get the right answer will win the two tickets to Range 15, that Mr. Tyler offered, but in the meantime while people are frantically googling all of that, and of course who knows?
Lisa
It's a hard question.
John
That may be a tough question. But in the meantime we were gonna talk about some other Veteran's benefits that are out there, particularly for some of the younger veterans that are out there. When we think about things like long term care or in-home care assistance or even nursing home care, we have a tendency to think older people. But when we're talking about people that have had service-related injuries, their needs, not much different in many cases.
Lisa
That's right. Service-related injuries, whether it's... I don't care if you serve in a war or if you're just hanging out on the base, there's a lot of equipment and a lot of physical activity that happens with the military.
John
That's right. It's very easy to get catastrophically injured even during peace time, which is why it's not about what you did in the military, or where you did it. You were at risk the whole time.
Lisa
That's right, and actually I have a family member by marriage who was serving in the Air Force in Korea recently, and just a few years ago, and he fell from a plane, something that he was working on onto the tarmac and had a closed head injury and he's now disabled and is certainly not the person he once was. And he's now essentially home-bound, taken care of by his family, and that was not a combat-related injury, but it was an injury act of service, you hang around planes and heavy equipment and weapons and all that, you can get injured even to the point of a long term disability.
John
Yeah, even when we were doing training exercises in 29 Palms, California during peace time, we had men get killed, we had men get shot, we had men get permanently injured, it's dangerous stuff out there. Because so many of these young folks post 9/11, so post 9/11 veterans who have been injured during service and need somebody else's help. In order to provide them some care, back in 2010 Congress, surprisingly enough, passed some additional veterans benefit programs, in particular the Caregiver and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010.
Lisa
Okay. So we'll just call it the Caregivers Act, how's that?
John
I like that. And basically what this whole Caregiver Act did was create a number of different programs that would be available to post 9/11 service members that need in home, long term care expenses, like the kind of stuff that we talk about. And there are several different things that these programs created, like for example, a service where you can call and get a caregiver manager who can educate people, family members, on how to be a caregiver, provide some training. A lot of times it's not about knowing what's wrong with the person, it's knowing how to be the caregiver.
Lisa
Right, and what government is figuring out is that families and loved ones typically make the best caregivers for someone with some disabilities or aging related issues, and also on the economic side of it often the cheapest caregivers.
John
In fact the vast majority of care provided to disabled Americans is provided for free by family members. It's in the tens of billions of dollars, and that affects us all. These are people who are not working, they're not paying taxes, they're not contributing to their own retirement because they're caring for family members.
Lisa
So the idea behind this Caregivers Act in part was to support these people, the role that they're playing in caring for their family member that has been injured through their military service, is just vital to the well being of that injured service member as well as... It's best. So the Caregivers Act put in a lot of programs to support the caregivers, which something as simple as, one of 'em's very simple, it's simply a hot line to the Veterans Services to discuss questions they have about caring for a Veteran. And that's a telephone call, but if you're having a bad day or something new and different has happened, you at least have a resource that's right there at hand, and that being a caregiver support hot line. But more importantly, I think, we start getting very hands on with some of the caregivers support programs, including a caregiver support coordinator who you can look up by your zip code, so if you are caring for a veteran then in your area you can look up your zip code and you can reach out and find out who your caregiver support coordinator is, and they help connect you with resources to keep providing that care giving.
John
Yeah and 'course that website it's www.caregiver.va.gov.
Lisa
Caregiver.va.gov. So caregiver.va.gov. Okay?
John
But if you type in "caregiver" and "VA" and stuff you'll probably come up with it. And of course there's also within this same program is... There's even a program that will pay family members for providing that support.
Lisa
Yes.
John
And to me this is probably really where a lot of our long term care focus should be going, not just for veterans, but across the board.
Lisa
Right.
John
And so I think they're on the right track here, the VA is, with this concept of let's create a program. We need to be able to compensate family members who are providing this sort of in-home care.
Lisa
Who are providing otherwise uncompensated care, and like you said, not contributing to their own retirement. So eventually at some point that caregiver, as they age, their social security, their retirement's nothing. [chuckle]
John
That's right.
Lisa
So the idea of some compensated care is certainly, like you say, on the right track.
John
Yeah and the fact is is we can probably pay these people, frankly we can pay these people a lot less. They were already gonna do it for free.
Lisa
Right. And so compared to an institutionalized type care situation like a nursing facility or a specialized care facility where the care is as good as it can be, but nothing's like family, typically.
John
That's right. Now these benefits are all available for post-9/11, but they are trying to expand these to the veteran community at large.
Lisa
Prior to 9/11.
John
Yeah, prior to 9/11, but they haven't yet. So right now these are, but there are some and we've talked about them on the show, but we'll repeat them again here. We do have a caller calling in. So let's see if we can get them on the line. Caller, you're on "Aging Insight".
Caller-1
Yeah, you know something, you're talking about reimbursing family members. Whenever someone gets injured like that and they need care, it's really providing... Causing financial injury to family also.
John
Yeah, absolutely. There's really no question that when you have somebody that quits a job or whatever it is to provide non-compensated in-home care, yeah that is a financial burden on everybody.
Caller-1
Yeah and it's caused by the injury, so it's in other words you have more than one person injured really if you look at it that way on a broad spectrum.
John
Yeah, that's exactly right. You've got more than one person injured.
Lisa
And of course the same analogy applies to even our non-veteran community when we talk about adult children caring for a parent with Alzheimer's. I can't tell you how many... And I don't know why this sticks out in my mind, but how many school teachers have quit teaching school to take care of a parent. It's wonderful they can do that, but you get a veteran third grade teacher who spent 15 years in the classroom and now they're coming out to take care of a parent and so our community certainly misses the services of that person, but that individual just has lots of impacts.
John
That's right. Yeah, very good point. Thank you for calling in.
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