Home Organization As VA benefits falter, Charlotte organization stands up for veterans and their families – WSOC TV

As VA benefits falter, Charlotte organization stands up for veterans and their families – WSOC TV


Life looks different for Heidi Selbee and her family.

“Our life is very much like the life of married couples in the 80s, with our life struggles, our dates and the decisions we have to make,” Heidi said.

When she married her husband, Daniel, about nine years ago, Heidi left a job in photography and became her carer. Daniel, an army veteran, was diagnosed with seizures and severe PTSD.

“There are times when he can leave the house and there are times when he can’t, he won’t, months at a time,” Heidi said. “So it’s a real fight for him, us, our daughter. It’s really difficult.

The Selbees are enrolled in the Veterans Affairs Caregiver Program. It provides a stipend, health benefits, and resources and training for caregivers.

In 2020 Veterans Affairs revised the program and by the end of 2021 thousands of families, including the Selbees, were told they no longer qualified.

In total, only 14% of those initially registered were able to keep their allowances.

On Wednesday, Sarah Verardo, CEO of the Independence Fund, a Charlotte-based veterans organization, testified before a US Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Over the past five months, Verardo said their group has been overwhelmed with calls from veterans and caregivers fearful of being unsubscribed in early October.

“You heard the same message. The program is broken. It’s been broken for a while,” Verardo said.

Veterans Affairs has heard these concerns. They have suspended both the opt-out and the reduction of benefits and promise to fix the program.

The Selbees are relieved to still have help, but Heidi hopes for more permanent change for her family and the thousands of others across the country.

“I think in a way, I think the VA thought, ‘Well, we’ll just give them a stipend and that’s it,’ but I always thought the program should be more,” Heidi said.

>>> At the top of the page, Channel 9’s Gina Esposito reports on the gaps the Independence Fund is helping fill for Charlotte veterans in need.

(WATCH BELOW: ‘Thank you’: Veteran’s family moves from motel to home thanks to nonprofits)