November is not only National Veterans Month but also National Family Caregivers Month, a time to recognize and thank the more than 40 million family caregivers in the U.S. This November, we should honor and pay respect to both: those who served our country in uniform and the hidden heroes caring for our veterans at home.
There are about 20 million veterans in the U.S. With longer life spans and potential health problems stemming from their military service, our ability to provide adequate care for a veteran now requires more action and resources than ever.
While three out of five veterans use the VA Healthcare system for their healthcare, assistance with their everyday needs fall squarely on the shoulders of a caregiver. There are 5.5 million veteran caregivers providing $14 billion annually in unpaid care to those who served and sacrificed for our nation.
Caring for a veteran is complex during the best of circumstance, but navigating this role is harder now than ever before. Veteran caregivers must navigate the VA system and often support loved ones with service-related conditions, such as PTSD or battlefield wounds, that can demand more attention. In some cases, COVID-19 has limited access to care and support services.
AARP continues to fight for all family caregivers. Most recently, AARP has partnered with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to create a Military Caregiving Guide and a resource for Supporting Military, Veteran and Family Caregivers During a Pandemic to help families develop a plan and navigate common caregiving challenges. AARP has also developed a list of free resources to aid veterans, military and their families amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Despite these efforts, more needs to be done. Many of the veteran caregivers supporting a loved one suffering service-connected ailments find themselves having to quit jobs or seek part-time work to continue the care. Most of the programs designed for military and veteran care provide scant resources for the caregiver or leave them out altogether.
This November, we ask that you lend a hand to our veteran caregivers supporting our heroes every day — we can honor and do right for both.
For more information on how AARP is working for Veterans, visit www.aarp.org/veterans.
This story is provided by AARP Kansas. Visit the AARP Kansas page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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