More than One Million Americans are Caring for Post-9/11 Veterans

Friday, April 04, 2014
Chris Ott is full-time caregiver to son John Doody, who was wounded in Iraq (photo: Chris O'Meara, AP)

Another way to measure the toll of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is in the number of Americans now taking care of the wounded veterans who fought in these conflicts.

 

More than 1 million individuals serve as military caregivers in the U.S. today for post-9/11 veterans, according to a new study (pdf) by the Rand Corporation.

 

There are another 4.4 million caregivers looking after other ex-soldiers.

 

“These caregivers play an essential role in caring for injured or wounded service members and veterans,” the Rand Corporation states. “This enables those for whom they are caring to live better quality lives, and can result in faster and improved rehabilitation and recovery. Yet playing this role can impose a substantial physical, emotional, and financial toll on caregivers.”

 

The Rand study found that post-9/11 military caregivers tend to differ from other military caregivers, in that they are younger and often care “for a younger individual with a mental health or substance use condition, employed, and not connected to a support network. They are more likely to use mental health resources and services, and to use them more often.”

 

Other findings from the study include:

 

“Seventeen percent of civilian caregivers reported spending more than 40 hours per week providing care (8% reported spending more than 80 hours per week); 12% of post-9/11 military caregivers and 10% of pre-9/11 military caregivers spent more than 40 hours per week.”

 

“Military caregivers consistently experience worse health outcomes, greater strains in family relationships, and more workplace problems than non-caregivers, and post-9/11 military caregivers fare worst in these areas.”

 

“Post-9/11 caregiver duties can be estimated as worth close to $3 billion (in 2011 dollars); the costs of lost productivity among post-9/11 caregivers are $5.9 billion (in 2011 dollars).”

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

Hidden Heroes (Rand Corporation)

America’s Military Caregivers (by Rajeev Ramchand, Terri Tanielian, Michael P. Fisher, Christine Anne Vaughan, Thomas E. Trail, Caroline Epley, Phoenix Voorhies, Michael William Robbins, Eric Robinson, and Bonnie Ghosh-Dastidar, Rand Corporation) (pdf)

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