November 18 2013
The United States has been at war since 2001. In this prolonged period of conflict, military families have played a critical role in supporting U.S. servicemembers during deployment and helping them cope with reintegration into family life. To honor the service and sacrifice of America's military families, President Obama has declared November to be National Military Family Appreciation Month. RAND research has shed light on the contributions of military families as well as the stresses they face from deployment-related challenges.
Equally vital but often less visible is the role played by those outside the treatment system who provide care for the many thousands of servicemembers who returned with disabling injuries or illnesses and require long-term support beyond what the formal health care system provides. These military caregivers are typically spouses, parents, children, or other relatives, but some are also neighbors, friends, or co-workers. They help in many ways, including assisting with tasks of daily living such as feeding and walking, offering mental and emotional support, helping to navigate the health care system, and handling legal and financial matters. The care and assistance they provide saves the nation millions of dollars in long-term care costs.