Veteran and military caregivers spend an average $11,500 of personal income each year on out-of-pocket expenses related to supporting their loved ones, 150% more than other family caregivers in the U.S., according to new data from AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving.
More than 6.5 million veterans and military caregivers provide $14 billion in unpaid labor caring for their service members each year, even as the Department of Veterans Affairs offers extensive services for caregivers.
Advocates say the striking disparity means more must be done to ensure that veteran caregivers are aware of the resources available, not only through the VA, but through nonprofits that aim to ease their financial and emotional stress.
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According to AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, 43% of veteran and military caregivers experienced at least one financial setback such as having to take on debt or use personal savings to cover personal expenses related to caregiving, including transportation and travel, respite care, geriatric services and more.
Amy Goyer, AARP's caregiving expert, learned late in her caregiving experience for her parents that her father was eligible for veterans benefits. For Goyer, knowing that earlier may have helped prevent her from having to declare bankruptcy, she said.
“My dad had not needed help,…