Millions of veterans and service members receive care from family and friends who need support as well. Military caregivers sacrifice their time, their jobs, and even their health to provide a service worth billions of dollars to the United States.
Thanks to a growing list of more than 100 organizations that have pledged their commitment as members of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation's National Coalition for Military Caregivers, our nation is taking long overdue action to support both our wounded warriors and those who care for them.
This Veterans Day, the United States especially honors the millions of veterans living with service-related illnesses and injuries. But it's also important to recognize the sacrifices of those helping them to recover and thrive: America's 5.5 million military caregivers.
On November 11, we honor the service and sacrifices of America's veterans. But as they return home and adjust to civilian life, veterans and their families face new challenges and communities struggle to meet their unique needs. Rigorous research is essential to addressing these challenges and finding long-term solutions. RAND explores key issues concerning veterans such as employment, health and well-being, family support, and education.
America shouldn't forget the sacrifices of those who care for the wounded. Rachel O'Hern tells the story of her life as a military caregiver, one of millions of spouses, family members, and friends who support service members and veterans with physical or emotional injuries or illnesses.
The landscape for caregivers remains very difficult. Many still need additional training on how to best provide care for their loved ones, respite so they can care for themselves, and other forms of support.
Right now there are 5.5 million wives, husbands, siblings, parents, children and friends devoted to the care of those injured fighting America's wars. Theirs is an all-consuming, emotionally draining task, one that has been driven for too long by loyalty and love, but little support.
A world without military caregivers would be a harsher one for all, particularly for those who have served. Military caregivers' sacrifices improve the lives of wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans, more of whom would suffer without them.
Military families play a critical role in supporting U.S. servicemembers during deployment and afterwards. Equally vital but often less visible is the role played by those who care for the servicemembers who return with disabling injuries or illnesses and require long-term support beyond what the formal health care system provides.
The act of caring for a veteran takes a physical, mental, and economic toll on caregivers and their families. Giving caregivers the skills and resources they need to cope and thrive should be as much a priority as giving veterans medical care.