Download eBook for Free

Full Document

Does not include Appendix H.

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 2.3 MB Best for desktop computers.

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

ePub file 13.9 MB Best for mobile devices.

On desktop computers and some mobile devices, you may need to download an eBook reader to view ePub files. Calibre is an example of a free and open source e-book library management application.

mobi file 30.4 MB Best for Kindle 1-3.

On desktop computers and some mobile devices, you may need to download an eBook reader to view mobi files. Amazon Kindle is the most popular reader for mobi files.

Appendix H

Contains a detailed list of the organizations included in this study.

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 1.5 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


Purchase Print Copy

 Format Price
Add to Cart Paperback288 pages $34.50

Research Questions

  1. What is the magnitude of military caregiving in the United States?
  2. How does caregiving affect individuals, their families, and society?
  3. How do these effects differ across cohorts of veterans and their caregivers?
  4. What are the current policies, programs, and other initiatives designed to support military caregivers?
  5. Do these efforts align with the needs of military caregivers?
  6. How can gaps be filled and the well-being of military caregivers ensured?

While much has been written about the role of caregiving for the elderly and chronically ill and for children with special needs, little is known about "military caregivers" — the population of those who care for wounded, ill, and injured military personnel and veterans. These caregivers play an essential role in caring for injured or wounded service members and veterans. This enables those for whom they are caring to live better quality lives, and can result in faster and improved rehabilitation and recovery. Yet playing this role can impose a substantial physical, emotional, and financial toll on caregivers. This report summarizes the results of a study designed to describe the magnitude of military caregiving in the United States today, as well as to identify gaps in the array of programs, policies, and initiatives designed to support military caregivers. Improving military caregivers' well-being and ensuring their continued ability to provide care will require multifaceted approaches to reducing the current burdens caregiving may impose, and bolstering their ability to serve as caregivers more effectively. Given the systematic differences among military caregiver groups, it is also important that tailored approaches meet the unique needs and characteristics of post-9/11 caregivers.

Key Findings

Post-9/11 Military Caregivers Differ from Other Caregivers

  • There are an estimated 5.5 million military caregivers in the United States. Of these, 1.1 million (19.6 percent) are caring for post-9/11 veterans.
  • Military caregivers helping veterans from earlier 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, caring for a younger individual with a mental health or substance use condition, employed, and not connected to a support network. They are more likely to use mental health resources and services, and to use them more often.

Caregivers Perform a Variety of Caregiving Tasks and Face Heavy Burdens

  • Post-9/11 military caregivers typically help those for whom they are caring cope with stressful situations or other emotional and behavioral challenges.
  • Seventeen percent of civilian caregivers reported spending more than 40 hours per week providing care (8 percent reported spending more than 80 hours per week); 12 percent of post-9/11 military caregivers and 10 percent of pre-9/11 military caregivers spent more than 40 hours per week.
  • Military caregivers consistently experience worse health outcomes, greater strains in family relationships, and more workplace problems than non-caregivers, and post-9/11 military caregivers fare worst in these areas.

Society Needs to Start Planning Now for Caregivers' Futures

  • The need for long-term planning is likely more pronounced for post-9/11 military care recipients, who are younger and may be more vulnerable than pre-9/11 and civilian care recipients, particularly those relying on aging parents and in new marriages. Critical aspects of planning include financial, legal, residential, and vocational/educational planning.
  • Post-9/11 caregiver duties can be estimated as worth close to $3 billion (in 2011 dollars); the costs of lost productivity among post-9/11 caregivers are $5.9 billion (in 2011 dollars).

Most Relevant Programs and Policies Serve Caregivers Only Incidentally

  • Most programs offering services to military caregivers tend to be targeted toward the care recipient, with his or her family invited to participate, or toward military and/or veteran families, of whom caregivers are a subset. These programs either make services available for family caregivers or they serve military families and within that group offer services for the caregiver subset.


  • Efforts are needed to help empower military caregivers, and should include ways to build their skills and confidences in caregiving, mitigate the potential stress and strain of caregiving, and raise public awareness of the caregivers' value.
  • Creating contexts that acknowledge caregivers' special needs and status — particularly in health care and workplace settings — will help caregivers play their roles more effectively and balance the potentially competing demands of caregiving and their own lives.
  • Programs relevant to the needs of military caregivers are typically focused on the service member or veteran, and only incidentally related to the caregiver's role, and there are specific gaps in needed programs, particularly for programs that help reduce the time spent performing caregiving duties, provide health care to caregivers, and offset lost income. Therefore, eligibility issues and these specific programmatic needs should be addressed.
  • Ensuring the long-term wellbeing of caregivers and the agencies that aim to support them may each require efforts to plan strategically for the future, not only to serve the dynamic and evolving needs of current military caregivers, but to anticipate the needs of future military caregivers in a changing political and fiscal environment.

This report was prepared as part of a research study funded by Caring for Military Families: The Elizabeth Dole Foundation. The research was conducted within RAND Health in coordination with the RAND National Security Research Division, divisions of the RAND Corporation.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.