Caregivers and veterans have a special relationship. A study by the National Alliance for Caregiving, “Caregivers of Veterans — Serving on the Homefront,” found that many family caregivers have served in the military, and often their recipients are veterans. In the study, the NAC assessed the needs of these caregivers and the veterans they care for.
While many of the challenges caregivers of veterans face are shared by other family caregivers, some are unique. The duration and intensity of providing care for a veteran is higher than for other caregivers. The injuries and illnesses veterans suffer — often connected to military service — require distinct care. More and more veterans needing homecare are not elderly, but only in their 20s, and require care for decades to come. Also, the variety and availability of governmental and community resources are different from what other family caregivers use, and navigating through it all is a unique challenge. Despite the enormity of the responsibility, these “homefront heroes” are glad to care for family members who have served in uniform, from World War II to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Caregivers of Veterans by the Numbers
The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates there are more than 23 million American veterans. The NAC found in a previous study that more than 10 million people are caring for a veteran, and about seven million of them are veterans themselves.
According to the study, the majority of family caregivers are women — 96 percent. Of these, 70 percent provide care for a spouse or partner, often by themselves.
Compared to other family caregivers nationally, caregivers of veterans are providing care for ten years or more. They also must cope with higher levels of stress because of the conditions of the veterans they care for.
With this information, the VA, policymakers, community agencies, nonprofit organizations, and businesses can better help this special group of caregivers who are caring for those who have served. For their sacrifices, they deserve all our help and support.
Read a PDF document of the full report here.