The Independence Fund CEO demands VA Change During Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Sarah Verardo shares her experience navigating the VA Caregiver program

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Sarah Verardo, CEO of Veteran non-profit The Independence Fund, testified before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (SVAC) for the Honoring Our Commitment: Improving VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers hearing. Her impassioned testimony outlined her personal experience with new VA regulations resulting in the disenrollment of nearly 7,000 military Caregivers from the VA Caregiver program. While the VA announced the pause of Legacy Veteran disenrollments and Tier demotions in a press conference yesterday, The Independence Fund and Verardo believe there is still much work to be done.

“Using our platform to demand change is simply the right thing to do,” Verardo explained. “Our Veterans bravely served and sacrificed for our nation, and they deserve the utmost care. The Program for Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) has made that possible for thousands of Veteran families, and the new regulations and subsequent disenrollments have been devastating for the military Caregiving community.”

Verardo’s husband Sergeant Mike Verardo, US Army (Retired) was catastrophically wounded on April 24th, 2010 in Afghanistan while serving with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. After being hit by an IED blast, his left leg was traumatically amputated and his left arm was partially blown off; he also suffered burns, complex polytrauma, traumatic brain injuries, and a host of other wounds. If not for the incredible work of the men of his Company and the Army Medical Corps, he would not have survived.

The Independence Fund submitted a Petition for Rulemaking in early 2022, alongside 21 fellow Veteran serving organizations. “We are cautiously optimistic with the VA’s announcement yesterday regarding the suspension of disenrollments and demotions for Legacy Veterans, and we will continue to engage fully in the stakeholder summits we hope are held as soon as possible. If agreement can be reached, we will support such changes, like the ones we’ve recommended in our Petition for Rulemaking and letters, and we ask Congress to make the necessary legislative changes.” 

Founded in 2007, The Independence Fund (501c3) is committed to empowering our nation’s catastrophically wounded, injured, or ill Veterans to overcome physical, mental, and emotional wounds incurred in the line of duty. The Independence Fund is dedicated to improving the lives of Veterans and their families by providing tangible impact. Through the Fund’s Mobility, Caregiver, Adaptive Sports, Advocacy, Suicide Prevention, Family, and Crisis Relief programs, The Independence Fund strives to bridge the gap of unmet needs for Veterans and their caregivers. The Independence Fund believes in fairness and equality for all veterans and families irrespective of race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation, and will continue to uphold these American values. 

Media Contacts:
Caroline Arey,
Strategic Messaging Director
The Independence Fund 
[email protected] 

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SOURCE The Independence Fund

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