Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

The Hidden Human Cost Of Post-9/11 Wars The Hidden Human Cost Of Post-9/11 Wars

This ad will end in seconds
 
Close X

Not a member? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation
 

 

Health Care

The Hidden Human Cost Of Post-9/11 Wars

There are more than 1 million people taking care of the country's newest veterans, and they face more challenges than did older generations.

(Sanchai Khudpin/Shutterstock)

There are 5.5. million people taking care of veterans across the United States. They bathe and feed them, schedule their medical appointments, manage their finances, and watch after their children. They help war-weary soldiers become a part of civilian life again.

Almost 20 percent of them, or 1.1. million, are helping someone who served in the military since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and they are unlike other generations of military caregivers, according to a new study from Rand, a nonpartisan policy research group. The study, which researchers say is the largest ever of military caregivers in the United States, surveyed more than 1,100 people.

Like older military caregivers, the people who look after post-9/11 veterans are husbands and wives, parents and friends, but they are younger and more diverse. They are more likely to care for someone with a mental or behavioral health problem, such as posttraumatic stress disorder. They have a full-time job. They don't have outside help. And they're probably veterans themselves.

 

These circumstances take a toll on the newest generation of military caregivers' work and health, the study found. More than 30 percent do not have health insurance, and their risk for depression is four times that of other civilians. Twelve percent report spending more than 40 hours a week taking care of veterans, compared with 10 percent of pre-9/11 caregivers who do the same. The newest caregivers say they miss three-and-a-half days of work a month, while civilian caregivers say they miss only one day.

"Caring for a loved one is a demanding and difficult task, often doubly so for caregivers who juggle these activities with caring for a family and the demands of a job," said Rajeev Ramchand, the study's coleader and a Rand senior behavioral scientist. "These caregivers pay a price for their devotion."

Rand estimates that these unpaid caregivers provide $3 billion in services each year. Last year, 39 percent of U.S. adults served as unpaid caregivers to children, family, and friends, up from 30 percent in 2010, according to a Pew Research survey in June.

The Rand study was commissioned by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, which provides support for military caregivers. Elizabeth Dole, a former Republican senator from North Carolina who served in the Reagan and first Bush administrations and launched the foundation, wrote in USA TODAY on Tuesday that services that provide support for military caregivers don't go far enough. "America owes a great debt to those who served in our armed forces, and especially those who return home injured or emotionally damaged," she said. "But a great debt is also due to the millions who look after them."

LIKE THIS STORY? Sign up for Health Care Edge

Get your daily dose of National Journal's health care coverage.

Sign up form for Health Care Edge
Job Board
Search Jobs
Digital and Content Manager, E4C
American Society of Civil Engineers | New York, NY
PRODUCT REVIEW ENGINEER
American Society of Civil Engineers | CA
Neighborhood Traffic Safety Services Intern
American Society of Civil Engineers | Bellevue, WA
United Technologies Research Fellow
American Society of Civil Engineers | New York, NY
Process Engineering Co-op
American Society of Civil Engineers | Conshohocken, PA
Electrical Engineer Co-op
American Society of Civil Engineers | Findlay, OH
Application Engineer/Developer INTERN - Complex Fluids
American Society of Civil Engineers | Brisbane, CA
Application Engineer - Internships CAE/CFD Metro Detroit
American Society of Civil Engineers | Livonia, MI
Chief Geoscientist
American Society of Civil Engineers
Application Engineer - Internships CAE/CFD Metro Boston
American Society of Civil Engineers | Burlington, MA
Professional Development Program Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Farmington Hills, MI
Civil Enginering Intern - Water/Wastewater/Site-Development
American Society of Civil Engineers | Sacramento, CA
Staff Accountant
American Society of Civil Engineers | Englewood, CO
Biomedical Service Internship Position
American Society of Civil Engineers | Flint, MI
 
Comments
comments powered by Disqus