RAND Study Highlights Gaps in Support for Military Caregivers

military caregiver

On April 1, the RAND Corporation released results from the largest-ever study of military caregivers, commissioned by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. The study was designed to describe the magnitude of military caregiving as well as to identify gaps in the array of programs, policies, and initiatives designed to support military caregivers.

The National Military Family Association attended a survey launch event that featured remarks by Senator Elizabeth Dole, Senator Richard Burr, and Senator Patty Murray. Senator Dole highlighted the importance of supporting our military caregivers and announced the formation of a national coalition to address caregiver needs. Senator Murray stated she will introduce legislation to address many of the issues uncovered by the RAND study. We look forward to contributing to future Elizabeth Dole Foundation efforts as well as supporting Senator Murray’s legislation to enhance caregiver resources.

Post-9/11 Military Caregivers Differ from Other Caregivers

There are an estimated 5.5 million military caregivers in the U.S. Of these, 1.1 million (19.6 percent) are caring for post-9/11 veterans. Military caregivers of veterans from other eras tend to resemble civilian caregivers in many ways.

Post-9/11 military caregivers differ from the other two groups.

  • They tend to be younger and are caring for a younger individual.
  • They are more likely to be employed.
  • They are twice as likely to be caring for someone with a behavioral health condition.
  • They are less likely to be connected to a support network or have another person they can rely on to assist with caregiving responsibilities.
  • They face elevated risks for depression that is four times greater than that of noncaregivers.
  • 30 percent of these post-9/11 caregivers lack health care coverage.

Resources Specifically Targeting Caregivers are Lacking

Researchers initially identified over 500 resources that mentioned helping military caregivers as part of their mission. Upon closer examination, only 120 programs actually interact with military caregivers directly and most of these offer caregiver services that are incidental to the main programs targeting the veteran. RAND concludes that there is an acute shortage of efforts to provide services directly to military caregivers.

We are proud to have released “Tips from Caregivers for Caregivers” with a grant funded by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, designed to help military caregivers through the difficult process of caring for a wounded loved one.

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