WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03) and Rep. John James (MI-10) introduced the bipartisan Helping Heroes Act, which seeks to support veteran families’ access to mental health care, peer support, and other resources that can help them lead healthier lives.
The legislation would help support the 2.3 million children who live in a household with a disabled veteran, as they often take on additional caregiving responsibilities and face unique challenges.
The Helping Heroes Act would:
- Require a full-time Family Coordinator at each VA medical center to assess the needs of veteran families in their catchment area and refer them to available local, state, and federal resources.
- Establish a Family Support Program to provide supportive services to eligible family members of disabled veterans.
- Ensure transition assistance curriculum includes information on services for children in veteran families adjusting from Active Duty to veteran status.
- Require the VA to collect data on the experiences of disabled veteran families to better identify and understand their needs.
“Our nation’s heroes make tremendous sacrifices to protect our freedoms, so it’s our responsibility to ensure they can access high-quality care after returning home. This doesn’t only mean medical care, but also the family, mental health, and peer support necessary to live healthy, fulfilling lives,” said Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez. “The Helping Heroes Act would ensure veteran families and children of disabled veterans have the resources they need and deserve.”
“When our wounded service members return home from fighting for our freedoms, oftentimes they are left without a caregiver. For those with families, children and spouses must sacrifice to care for their veteran family members – many of them without assistance from their local VA,” said Rep. James. “The Helping Heroes Act of 2023 would assist the spouses and roughly 2.3 million children who care for a disabled veteran at home. This legislation would both equip local VA medical centers to help families with a disabled veteran meet their needs. I am proud to join a bipartisan, bicameral coalition to support this legislation.”
“Generations of families and children have witnessed first-hand the physical and emotional effects of war,” said Steve Schwab, CEO of Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “We are grateful to Rep. Perez and Rep. James for recognizing the gap in support available to America’s military families and 2.3 million hidden helpers, and bringing forth the Helping Heroes Act to help fill this critical need.”
A summary of the legislation is available here. Full text of the bill is available here.
The Helping Heroes Act is supported by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), The American Legion, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), and American Veterans (AMVETS).
The Helping Heroes Act was introduced in the Senate on a bipartisan basis by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and John Boozman (R-AR).