Why Is Military Caregiving Unique?

Terri Tanielian, Rajeev Ramchand, Michael P. Fisher, Carra S. Sims, Racine Harris, and Margaret C. Harrell , Rand Corporation
Why Is Military Caregiving Unique?

Multiple and Severe Injuries or Illnesses
Military caregivers often care for service members or veterans with multiple injuries or illnesses, many of which are severe or require substantial or unique assistance.1 Caring for persons with TBI was common among the caregivers in the NAC study and among those to whom we spoke. These different injuries often necessitate numerous types of care and assistance from caregivers.

Complex Systems of Care
Military caregivers are navigating complicated health systems necessary to treat the multiple illnesses and injuries from which their loved ones are suffering. In addition, this care may be provided in various locations and by various providers, including the Department of Defense (DoD), the Veterans Health Administration, and private providers.

Invisible Wounds
Military caregivers can face a daunting task even when service members return home without visible wounds. For example, researchers have found that caregivers of veterans with PTSD experience a burden of care on par with caregivers of individuals with dementia and chronic schizophrenia.2

Around-the-Clock Care
Military caregivers often provide care continuously, day and night. Care may be labor-intensive, and caregivers are sometimes the only available, knowledgeable, or trusted person to provide care. The amount of time that military caregivers spend providing care appears to vary greatly, with some providing upward of 80 hours per week.3

A Lifetime of Care
Given the relatively young age at which service members are often wounded, their need for caregiving may extend several decades. As a result, military caregivers tend to provide care for long periods of time — upward of 10 years of care at twice the rate of other caregiving populations.4

Posted on BrainLine September 9, 2013.

Used with permission from "Military Caregivers: Cornerstones of Support for Our Nation's Wounded, Ill, and Injured Veterans," the Rand Corporation. To learn more about the Rand Corporation and to peruse their books, reports, and products, click here.