Tuesday, February 1, 2011

VA Caregiver Hotline

I am not sure how many of you are aware of this, but the VA just launched It's caregiver hotline. Now you may wonder, is this just one more person that won't give a crap and will say they do? You may also think, WHAT? another person to keep up with? I decided to call the hotline and see what the heck it is all about and whether or not the people were competent. I have to say that the phone call was somewhere in the middle for me. The person seemed like she had a clue what she was talking about, but she also seemed like she was just someone at a call center taking information and was rather disconnected from everything I was saying. Do I expect them to get it? No! BUT it would be nice if they showed some empathy for what we go through every day. I also had to laugh when I saw the new website, because once again they are trying to give us all of these "helpful tips" but seriously they are not practical when there are obstacles to every one of them. Until they figure out a way to help address these issues and the obstacles people will remain "burnt out".

So what does the site provide? They have a video that represents a broad spectrum of caregiver's. A few questions to help you determine if you are a caregiver (though I think we all have that one figured out! lol..) They also have some statistics that were provided by the National Alliance of Caregiving. They recently did a study on caregiver's of Veterans. While I think they are trying, they still are so far from the mark in my opinion. I was told that this caregiver website is one of the first steps in the caregiver bill. When I pressed in on more important questions I was basically told that things are still being worked on and that they didn't have answers for me. I guess the stipend is a major issue and question among caregiver's and rightfully so, however yet again they seem unable to figure out what the eligibility will be for the stipend and how they will implement it. I think they are really trying for some CYA so that they don't piss us all off if only a select number get it. I also got the impression that the lady knew more than she would let on, and that she was reading from a script or something.

I was so not impressed and plan on calling back tomorrow to talk to a supervisor. It sounds like there will be a public online forum as part of the process of the bill where we will be able to provide some feedback on various things, so do call and get your email on the list so that you will be aware of the progress of the caregiver bill and the chance to give your feedback.

You can find the VA caregiver website here


and the phone hotline number is

855-260-3274 M-Fri 8am-11pm EST
and on Sat from 10:30 am -6 pm EST

So what are your thoughts? Do you think we will see this bill implemented anytime soon? Do you plan on calling the hotline and connecting with your local caregiver coordinator to let them know what you are thinking and feeling? I would love to know how you are all doing and what your thoughts are.


  1. I just want to add that I do understand this is a new hotline and that there will be a learning curve on their end. I do think that we need to be sensitive to that, but at the same time they have to expect that we are faced with many challenging issues, and I am sure they expect that many of us won't be having sweet rosy conversations with them. I do try my best to be as polite as possible, but yet still get my point across. I still see this hotline as progress towards hopefully much much more!

  2. Hi VS2.

    I think you have given a very fair appraisal of a new and evolving service. What will be quite helpful according to the press release are "'warm' referrals to dedicated Caregiver Support Coordinators located in every VA Medical Center and emotional support for the caregiver will be an integral component of this service.

    Certainly most of us respond well to acknowledgement of our situations, and if the emotional support is strong, that will be an improvement worth lauding.

  3. The biggest problem I have is that these hours of operation do NOT work for the toughest times of the day for many: AFTER 9pm across the country. If you live in California for example, you are only covered until 7pm (dinnertime). The need to talk when your vet is not around is critical sometimes and thats made harder when TBI or severe PTSD doesn't permit being far from them.

    I understand that the VA is trying, but some of these thoughts should be so basic to them since everyone knows the nightmares start at night, so I find it hard not to be very, very frustrated with the lack of attention to detail for more than the East coast.

    And, yes, I agree that they're reading from a script. Social workers are not needed to hand off a phone call, but people with EMPATHY ARE! I won't be calling them again, since they couldn't hand me off to my coordinator since there isn't one yet. Tired of the broken promises.