More Than One Million Americans Caring for Injured Veterans

Few public or private programs offer direct support to these caregivers, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, April 2, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- More than 1.1 million Americans are caring for veterans injured or disabled since Sept. 11, 2001, a new study reveals.

Those caregivers include spouses, parents, and friends. Many provide care without a formal support network and are putting their own health at risk, according to the findings from the RAND Corp., a nonprofit research organization. Compared to other groups of caregivers, people who care for veterans who served after 9/11 are younger, typically work outside the home, and are more likely to care for someone with emotional and behavioral problems, the researchers found.

Caregivers of these veterans provide about $3 billion in care each year and save the nation huge amounts in long-term care costs, the researchers said. Care often includes assistance with bathing and eating, making medical appointments, managing finances, looking after children, and helping to deal with situations that could worsen mental health issues. Despite the significant contributions of these caregivers, few public or private programs offer direct support to caregivers of post-9/11 veterans, the researchers found.

"There is an acute shortage of efforts to provide services directly for military caregivers. There is a particular need for programs that focus on the younger caregivers who aid the newest veterans," study co-leader Rajeev Ramchand, a senior behavioral scientist, said in the RAND news release.

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