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US Senator Dick Durbin Meets with VA Caregivers in Marion

US Senator Dick Durbin spent time in southern Illinois Tuesday, illustrating what he says is a need to expand a federal program to help veterans and their families meet with participants of the VA Caregiver Program in Marion.

Durbin says the VA Caregiver Program is already open to post-911 vets, and he'd like to see it cover even more veterans and their families by providing training, peer, and financial support.

Earlier this year, Durbin introduced an expansion to the US Dept of Veterans Affairs Caregiver Program.

Its intention is to keep injured veterans at home and take burdens off their family’s that provide the assistance they need.

“We have 21,000 families using the caregiver program across America, 425 in Illinois, 71 in Southern Illinois, so it helps a lot of people.”

To tell you the truth it is a godsend, it's been a rough road we've been together years. ~Amber Bowling

Amber Bowling has been in the Caregiver Program since December.

“To tell you the truth it is a godsend, it’s been a rough road we’ve been together years.”

Her fiancé Charles Reed was injured in Afghanistan in 2009.

This is not the first time this family has dealt with an injured vet.

“My bother was an Iraq vet and when he came home he didn’t seek help and I saw how bad that destroyed his life.”

Learning from his brother Charles decided to not let that happen to him or other vets.

“I want to try and figure out as much as I can to try and help some of my friends who either choose not to come or don’t know about what there is that’s available for them.”

Senator Durbin says keeping veterans at home and out of facilities not only saves the taxpayers money, but also keeps the promise of made to veterans that they’ll get the help they need after the service is complete.

“One after the other saying because of this program I can help my husband deal with the issues he brought home from war, it means families survive, kids have a better chance of a good family life and the veteran feels better about himself.”

In July the Marion VA will open a comprehensive behavioral health center