Military Caregivers Serve, Too
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Military Caregivers Serve, Too

February 13, 2019 | 2 min. read

Those who care for our nation’s veterans deserve medals of their own.

The demand for caregivers has soared in recent years, driven largely by the aging U.S. population. It’s a responsibility that comes with some daunting challenges. Caregivers often don’t have the time or energy to take care of themselves or other family members, they’re more likely to have to miss work and, not surprisingly, they often report high levels of stress. Compared to their peers, caregivers also experience elevated feelings of isolation, which can lead to depression.

A 2018 poll conducted by The Associated Press/NORC Center studied the effects of caregiving in the United States, and the results are startling:

  • Caregiving is a full-time job for one in four caregivers.
  • Eight in 10 caregivers use their own money to pay for the treatment of loved ones.
  •  Due to the cost of care, one in four caregivers has reduced their retirement contributions.

Those who care for the men and women who have served our country not only face these general obstacles, but they also encounter a slew of military-specific challenges. According to the VA, common healthcare issues afflicting the 22 million military veterans living in the United States include injuries, chronic pain and mental health disorders like PTSD. Without appropriate attention, these problems have the potential to snowball into substance abuse, homelessness and even suicide. 

In addition, due to the nature of military service and combat stress, the need for professional assistance with daily living skills such as reconnecting with family, reintegrating into civilian life and finding suitable employment is largely unique to the veteran population. In essence, the rising cost of healthcare and lack of customized resources for veterans and their caregivers have combined to form a perfect storm. First Command’s May 2018 Financial Behaviors Index® survey found that eight in 10 military households have experienced a mental and/or physical health issue within the past year.

If you are overwhelmed by caring for a loved one who has served our country, you’re not alone. Thanks to high-profile organizations such as The Elizabeth Dole Foundation, awareness, appreciation and the availability of services for hidden heroes like you are on the rise. Here are just a few resources to help you avoid burnout, recharge and find customized support:

At First Command, we’ve seen firsthand the potential financial pitfalls of being a caregiver. Because more than 80 percent of our Financial Advisors are veterans or military spouses, we understand and value the support caregivers provide to our servicemen and women. First Command offers disability and long-term care insurance options as part of a comprehensive, individualized financial plan, and we take pride in our ability to help military families address their unique challenges.

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