U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) wants to expand a program that currently provides care to post-9/11 disabled veterans, to disabled veterans of any conflict. The Veterans Care program currently provides funds to caregivers and their families allowing post-9/11 veterans to stay in their homes, and Durbin says it’s worth it to expand.
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“Somebody will say, ‘Well, it’s going to cost some money.’ And it should, and we should pay it,” Durbin said Thursday in Springfield. “And we should understand that it’s a small price to pay for vets who come home disabled.”
Durbin says it could actually save the government money, because it costs the VA around $36,000 a year for veterans to stay in their homes, but anywhere from $45,000 to $332,000 to place them in nursing homes.
Durbin says the VA didn’t like the idea at first, because it was too soon after the terrorist attack of 2001, but he says the need has proven greater: He mentioned a disabled Vietnam veteran he encountered at the Hines VA in Maywood.
“I thought, this poor man has been in this room, in this bed, for decades, I thought to myself, maybe there was no other place for him to go. But, if it were possible for him to be home, with a little helping hand from our federal government, it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
Durbin says he expects there to be bi-partisan support in Congress for such an expansion, and plans to ask Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to be a backer.