Veterans Urge Changes Before Expansion Of VA Caregivers Program
By QUIL LAWRENCE
AUG 8, 2019
"I got a letter saying that I was out of the program because the veteran hasn't shown any progress since 2011," said Alicia. "I asked them, 'What do you mean by progress?' "
Matt shakes hands with members of the Warrior Games community after his race. "I got a letter saying that I was out of the [caregivers] program because the veteran hasn't shown any progress since 2011," Alicia said. "I asked them, 'What do you mean by progress?' " EVE EDELHEIT FOR NPRThere are times when retired Staff Sgt. Matt Lammers doesn't look like he needs anyone's help — like when he was competing, and winning, races at the Department of Defense Warrior Games in Tampa, Fla., this summer.
"We don't like to say the word 'can't' in our family," says Matt, who lost both his legs above the knee and his left arm to an explosion during his second deployment to Iraq in 2007.
Matt won medals at the games in Tampa for sitting volleyball, swimming and indoor rowing. At the end of the games, the U.S. Army gave him the "heart of the team" award. But he and his wife almost didn't attend, because they were short on cash to make the trip after Alicia was cut from the Department of Veterans Affairs' caregiver program last December because Matt had not "consistently engaged in treatment," according to a letter from the VA. Alicia had been Matt's official caregiver for most of eight years.
"It felt like a stab in the back, like what I do is not worth it in their opinion, like I'm not part of their team like I thought I was," she says.
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