Charlotte Organization Stands Up for Veterans as VA Benefits Waiver

Charlotte Organization Stands Up for Veterans as VA Benefits Waiver


Heidi Selbee's life looks different now.

"Our lives are comparable to those of couples in their 80s, complete with life struggles, appointments, and decisions," Heidi reflected.

About nine years ago, Heidi quit her job as a photographer and became Daniel's caregiver. He has PTSD and seizures.

“There are times when he is able to leave the house and times when he is unable to leave, refusing to leave for months on end,” Heidi explained. "So that is certainly a challenge for him, for us, for our daughter. We find that very challenging."

Veterans Affairs' Caregiver Assistance Program covers the Selbees. In addition to stipends, health benefits, and resources, it also provides caregivers with training and resources.

VA reworked its program in 2020, and thousands of people like the Selbees were told they weren't eligible for it in late 2021.

On average, only 14 percent of those initially enrolled were permitted to keep their benefits.

Earlier this week, Sarah Verardo, the head of the Independence Fund's Charlotte office, appeared before a veterans committee.

Veterans and caregivers have been pestering their group for help in the last five months, Verardo says. They worry about being disenrolled at the beginning of October.

This message was also conveyed to you. It appears that the program has failed. Having been out of commission for some time, Selbee explained.

The VA heard those concerns. We put a halt to disenrollment and benefits reduction, and we're working on fixing it.

Heidi Selbee is relieved that she'll still get help, but she hopes it'll be permanent for her family and for tens of thousands of others.

In some ways, I think the VA thought, 'Well, we'll just give them a stipend, but I've always thought it should be more." Heidi said.

Selbee hopes to see a change in the program's screening procedures when the VA reformats this program.

During the screening Selbee said the questions and process were demoralizing. Besides medical records, she says the VA has other ways to collect information about a veteran.