Military Caregiver

Last Updated: August 14, 2018
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​What is Military Caregiving

A Military Caregiver is someone who provides assistance to a Service member with activities they once did on their own but are no longer able to do for themselves. Military Caregivers can be family members, friends, or acquaintances of Service members and may not think of themselves as caregivers. They may be unpaid or receive Non-Medical Attendant or travel per diem reimbursement or care for a Service member who receives Special Compensation with Activities of Daily Living.

You May Be a Military Caregiver if You Experience Any of the Following

  • I assist a Service member with day-to-day activities such as eating, dressing, toileting, showering, etc.
  • I provide a Service member with emotional support.
  • I advocate for new and better treatment for a Service member.
  • I oversee legal or financial responsibilities for a Service member, due to a wound, illness or injury.
  • I coordinate care (make doctor’s appointments or arrange for transportation to appointments, etc.) for a Service member.
  • I miss work or change my schedule to care for a Service member.
  • I sometimes feel overwhelmed caring for a Service member.

Adapted from: Operation Family Caregiver web site

The Value of Military Caregivers

We recognize the value of Military Caregivers and the sacrifices they make every day contributing to Service members’ recovery.

Value to the Service member

  • Improves quality of life
  • Improves rehabilitation and recovery
  • Prevents institutionalization

Value to Society

$470 billion is the estimated economic value of the unpaid contributions of all caregivers in the United States.

Sources: RAND Hidden Heroes Report, 2014

Disorders Affecting Post-9/11/01 Service members Receiving Care

  • 52% of Service members receiving care suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • 46% of Service members receiving care suffer from Major Depressive Disorder
  • 15% of Service members receiving care suffer from Substance Use Disorder

Source: RAND Hidden Heroes Report, 2014; percentages are estimates only

Who Are Post-9/11/01 Military Caregivers

  • 33% are spouses of the Service member
  • 25% are parents of the Service member
  • 6% are adult children of the Service member

  • 49% are between age 31 and 55 years
  • 37% of are age 30 years or younger

Source: RAND Hidden Heroes Report, 2014; percentages are estimates only

Potential Impacts of Caregiving on Military Caregivers

Caregivers provide a selfless service to their Service members and our nation and often gain a great sense of satisfaction from the support they provide. However, caregiving can sometimes cause physical and emotional stress.

Compared to non-military and pre-9/11/01 caregivers, post-9/11/01 Military Caregivers exhibit the following.

  • Poorer health outcomes
  • Greater strain on relationships
  • More workplace challenges

Nearly 40% of Military Caregivers met criteria for Major Depressive Disorder, prevalence almost 4 times higher than non-caregivers and about twice as high as pre-9/11/01 and non-military caregivers.

Source: RAND Hidden Heroes Report, 2014

Extent of the Problem

  • 5.5 million – the estimated number of Military Caregivers in the U.S.
  • 1.1 million (20%) – the estimated number of Military Caregivers helping those who served post-9/11/01

Sources: RAND Hidden Heroes Report, 2014

Military Caregiver – Heart of Recovery Initiative

Military Caregiver – Heart of Recovery initiative aims to reduce the risks associated with caregiving by supporting the health and well-being of family members or friends who serve as caregivers for wounded, ill or injured active duty U.S. Service members as they transition from point of injury to medical discharge or return to duty.