VetsFirst was honored to be at the White House on April 11 as First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and Senator Elizabeth Dole joined together to recognize the role of military caregivers and announce new initiatives to help these dedicated men and women.

The event followed the release of a new RAND study commissioned by the Caring for Military Families: The Elizabeth Dole Foundation regarding the needs of military caregivers.

The study, “Hidden Heroes: America’s Military Caregivers,” estimates that there are 5.5 million caregivers providing assistance to veterans. 1.1 million of these caregivers provide care for a post-9/11 veteran. The economic impact of the caregiving services provided by post-9/11 caregivers is estimated to be approximately $3 billion annually.

The cost of caregiving for caregivers is high. The study found that military caregivers have worse health outcomes and lower levels of relationship satisfaction than non-caregivers. Many post-9/11 caregivers are also struggling to balance work expectations with their caregiving duties.

To begin addressing these concerns, Senator Dole announced the launch of a national coalition of organizations and individuals focused on the needs of military caregivers. The purpose of the coalition is to address the unmet needs identified in the RAND study.

Senator Dole also announced the release of a new online resource for caregivers. This resource provides information about how to access VA, TRICARE, and other benefits, along with information about addressing the financial and legal issues that many caregivers face. The resource’s development was spearheaded by the Military Officers Association of America. VetsFirst was proud to serve as a consultant and contributor in the development of this resource.

Moving forward, we will continue to advocate for the resources that caregivers for our nation’s veterans need and deserve.