Caregivers: You'll never walk alone
A RAND study estimates that there are 5.5 million people in the United States who provide informal care for veterans with debilitating injuries or illnesses. These people – we call them military caregivers – are the spouses, parents, siblings, friends, neighbors and children of our nation's veterans. They play an important role in veterans' adjustment and recovery, helping them live longer and achieve a better quality of life.
Caregiving can be a heavy burden
Many caregivers provide care while juggling work and family responsibilities. Our research revealed that caregiving can be time-consuming and place a heavy burden on caregivers' health and well-being. Finding help and support can reduce this burden and improve their well-being.
Searching & finding help
The RAND study identified more than 120 programs that offer support services to military caregivers. Finding the right program and support can be a challenge. There are many places to start looking, but you have to assess whether specific programs fit your needs. When we looked at programs for military caregivers, we found that these support services fall into a few main categories (see box).
Provides an overview of support resources for military caregivers based on RAND's extensive research on this population and its supportive environment.
Accessing federal and state benefits and programs
You may be eligible for federal benefits and services, some of which are administered by state or local county governments through designated agencies.
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers a variety of programs and benefits for family caregivers. Substitute care, social support services, caregiver assistance and benefits, and education are also available. For more information, see www.caregiver.va.gov. Caregivers of post-World War 9 veterans are eligible for assistance under the General Caregiver Assistance Program. You can check your eligibility by clicking on this link or by contacting your local Veterans Caregiver Support Coordinator at www.va.gov/healthbenefits/resources/Caregiver_Eligibility_Check.asp.
Department of Defense (DoD) Special Care Assistance for Activities of Daily Living (SCAADL) is available to active duty service members who served after September 11, 2001, have a permanent, catastrophic disability, receive outpatient care, and have a designated primary caregiver. See your department's Wounded Warrior Program or Soldier Transition Unit.
Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS). Throughout your state, you may be eligible for a variety of services in the Medicaid HCBS programs. For more information, visit www.caregiver.org/home-and-community-based-hcb-waiver.
State and local foster care services. Many states have statewide consortia and funding through the Lifespan Respite Care Act to support respite services for family caregivers. For more information, visit www.archrespite.org/respitelocator.
Access to Health Care
Regular access to health care is important for health and well-being. Military members and their families who do not qualify for, are receiving, or do not have access to TRICARE insurance can obtain health insurance through their employer, affiliated organizations such as AARP, new health insurance plans, Medicaid, or Medicare. For more information, visit www.healthcare.gov/blog/4-steps-to-getting-covered-in-the-health-insurance-marketplace.
Protecting your well-being by yourself
As a military nurse, you promote the health and well-being of the nation's veterans, their recovery and rehabilitation, and their quality of life. Whether for a short time or for many years, caregiving can make a difference in your own health and well-being. Getting help can reduce this impact and promote your own long-term well-being. Be sure to take advantage of the benefits and resources available to support you and your family. Follow these links for more information and resources to help you:
Military caregiver support service categories
- Respite care: care provided by a person other than the caregiver to temporarily assist the caregiver.
- Patient advocate or case manager: person who serves as a liaison between the service member or veteran and health care and service providers.
- Helping hand: direct support such as loans, grants, housing or transportation assistance.
Financial assistance: compensation for time spent caring for a family member or for lost wages.
- Formal social support: online or in-person support groups for military or family caregivers.
Religious support: religious or spiritual counseling.
- Structured health activities: organized activities, such as fitness or stress management classes, aimed at improving well-being.
- Education can be an effective way to improve the care and well-being of people with disabilities or illnesses and reduce caregiver burden.
- Some programs also offer health and mental health services, especially for caregivers, outside of traditional channels.
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard