“These are difficult roles, exhausting roles, both physically and mentally. Women, in particular, are more likely to take on the obligation of caregiving – meaning the burdens can fall more heavily on them. Caregivers are the unsung heroes of so many families, so many communities…”
– Dr. Jill Biden, Caregiving Beyond Parenting
This Memorial Day, as we remember those who gave their lives for our country, may we also honor our veterans and the spouses and family members who care for them. Much information about caregivers focuses on long-term elderly care, but our returning veterans often need assistance re-entering civilian life and recovering both from physical and mental wounds. Their families often step up and assume caregiving duties.
Caregiving for Veterans
According to “Caregivers of Veterans – Serving on the Homefront,” a report by the National Alliance for Caregiving, 96 percent of all veteran caregivers are women (up from 61 percent of all adult caregivers). The report also shared that 47 percent of veteran caregivers had to take early retirement (only 9 percent of adult caretakers did this) and 50 percent claimed high financial hardship.
In a recent speech on caregivers of veterans, Dr. Jill Biden mentioned a special program called the Caregiver Rule, in which veteran caregivers can enroll for assistance through Veteran’s Affairs (VA). The Caregiver Rule covers some of the traditional costs associated with caregiving. It allows caregivers of qualifying veterans to receive a monthly stipend, access to health care insurance, mental health services and counseling, respite care, coverage of travel expenses, and comprehensive VA Caregiving training. This rule only covers post-9/11 veterans, but there are other services offered to help caregivers through the VA.
Caregivers of veterans face a different set of circumstances than other adult caregivers, and in response, the VA has created a network of support. To learn more go to www.caregiver.va.org. Other services the VA offers to veterans and their caregivers include:
- A Caregiver Support Line (1-855-260-3274)
- Adult Health Care (ADHC) Centers
- Home-Based Primary Care
- Skilled Home Care
- Homemaker and Home Health Aide Program
- Home Telehealth
- Respite Care
- Home Hospice Care
In the BPW Foundation’s “Joining Forces for Women Veterans and Military Spouses Mentoring Plus” program, working women offer free personal coaching and professional advice to women veterans, veteran spouses, and wounded military caregivers. They are given the tools and support to help them gain meaningful employment.
Finally, WISER’s “Financial Steps for Caregivers: What You Need to Know About Protecting Your Retirement” is a great resource for all caregivers that can help you protect your own income while helping others.