Military Caregivers Aid Injured Warriors, but Little Is Known About Their Needs
Mar 7, 2013
Military caregivers are an essential part of our nation's ability to care for returning wounded warriors. Far too often, their own needs are neglected. This paper lays the groundwork to inform policy and program development relative to the needs of military caregivers that often differ from the needs of the general caregiving population.
Cornerstones of Support for Our Nation's Wounded, Ill, and Injured Veterans
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Military caregivers are an essential part of our nation's ability to care for returning wounded warriors. Far too often, their own needs are neglected. The RAND Corporation and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation collaborated on a first, exploratory phase of a larger research effort regarding this demographic and its needs. The paper explores what is known about the number and characteristics of military caregivers, describes the roles and functions they perform, and highlights the effect of caregiving on their own well-being. Most existing literature on family caregivers is heavily focused on an older population caring for persons with chronic conditions or dementia. By comparison, research on military caregivers is scant, and there are notable differences that make this population unique: Military caregivers are spouses with young children, parents with full- and part-time jobs, and sometimes even young children helping shoulder some of the burden. Government services available to this population are in their infancy; community service organizations offer diverse services but they are generally uncoordinated. This paper lays the groundwork to inform policy and program development relative to the unique needs of military caregivers.
Note: The preliminary findings in this paper have been superseded by RAND's 2014 major study on military caregivers (fully documented in Hidden Heroes: America's Military Caregivers), which included a nationally representative survey of caregivers and a broad examination of the support resources available to them. All publications related to this study are available at the RAND Military Caregivers Study webpage.
This report was prepared as part of Phase I of a research study funded by Caring for Military Families: The Elizabeth Dole Foundation. The research was conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).
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