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.

National Journal
Marina Koren
April 2, 2014, 6:10 a.m.

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.”

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
When It Comes to Mining Asteroids, Technology Is Only the First Problem
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Obama Reflects on His Economic Record
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Reagan Families, Allies Lash Out at Will Ferrell
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."

Source:
PEAK CONFIDENCE
Clinton No Longer Running Primary Ads
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-ex­pec­ted primary battle be­hind her, former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D) is no longer go­ing on the air in up­com­ing primary states. “Team Clin­ton hasn’t spent a single cent in … Cali­for­nia, In­di­ana, Ken­tucky, Ore­gon and West Vir­gin­ia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “cam­paign has spent a little more than $1 mil­lion in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone back­er in the Sen­ate, said the can­did­ate should end his pres­id­en­tial cam­paign if he’s los­ing to Hil­lary Clin­ton after the primary sea­son con­cludes in June, break­ing sharply with the can­did­ate who is vow­ing to take his in­sur­gent bid to the party con­ven­tion in Phil­adelphia.”

Source:
CITIZENS UNITED PT. 2?
Movie Based on ‘Clinton Cash’ to Debut at Cannes
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."

Source:
×