U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, on Thursday gained four additional co-sponsors for legislation she introduced in November to direct the federal Department of Veterans Affairs to contract with independent contractors to handle a backlog of applications for the VA Family Caregiver program that assists families of veterans seriously wounded during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The program, established in 2010, provides medical services and stipends for family members who care for wounded veterans.
VA officials originally estimated about 4,000 care givers would be approved for benefits by this time. However, 15,000 care givers have been approved, with 14,800 pending applications not yet reviewed, as of November, according to Stefanik's office.
New co-sponsors are as follows:
- Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz.
- Rep. Timothy Waltz, D-Minn
- Rep. John Carter, R-Texas
- Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook
The legislation -- HR 3969 -- had 6 co-sponsors, as of Tuesday -- four Republicans and two Democrats.
Click here to read more about the legislation.