First Lady Michelle Obama and other influential Washington women are joining forces to push for an expansion of federal benefits for the millions of caregivers who assist injured and disabled veterans and service members.
Obama has planned a White House meeting on Friday with former Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole, Second Lady Jill Biden, and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter to announce the group’s commitment to the cause.
The meeting comes one day after Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced legislation to expand eligibility for caregiver benefits.
The new bill would allow more care providers to qualify for child-care programs, legal counseling and financial advice, in addition to loosening restrictions that prevent injured and disabled veterans from transferring their educational benefits to spouses, who often become the primary sources of income for their families.
The White House event also follows on the heels of a report last week from the Rand Corporation that said few public and private programs exist to support more than 1 million Americans who provide care to post-9/11 military veterans who are injured and disabled.
Dole commissioned the Rand report. Her husband is former U.S. senator and Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole, who lost the use of his right arm after being wounded by German machine-gun fire during World War II.
The study found that an estimated 5.5 million Americans care for service members and veterans, including 1.1 million individuals who support troops who served during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
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